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What is the Chota Hathi of India?

Tata Ace - The Chota Hathi of India

Before the 20th Century in India, and until the introduction of the Chota Hathi, heavy-duty transportation and logistics was difficult to carry out efficiently. Most vehicles at that time would have problems transporting high volume loads and would ultimately cause problems due to bad mechanical and structural design, leaving Indian transport businesses with many problems while moving their goods.

Tata was one of the initial names in the small commercial vehicles segment and came up with the now popular title “Chota Hathi” for their SCVs. This vehicle single-handedly changed the entire goods transport sector. Chota Hathi (Tata Ace Tempo) sales are still breaking records in India! Let’s take a look at the history of India’s most preferred cargo vehicle – the Tata Chota Hathi.

History of Tata’s Chota Hathi

2005 – The First Ace | Tata Ace

India already had a couple of productions for cargo vehicles, but they didn’t seem to meet the consumers’ needs, often having poor reliability. Tata came in and released India’s first Mini Truck, the Chota Hathi (The original Tata Ace). The engine build came with a small but powerful 700cc diesel 5-speed engine block, giving out 16HP of power with a maximum torque of 37.5Nm at 5,400RPM. The synchromesh transmission allowed for smooth gear changing and supported the engine strain, especially for heavier cargo.

The design elements of this vehicle were simple, minimalist, and humble; no fancy colors, interiors, or accessories. This Chota Hathi was essentially just an engine, chassis, and tons of cargo capacity. It was built for transporting – and did exactly that, with perfection. Today, the Tata Ace is still chugging on as one of the leading names in the commercial vehicles segment.

2006 – Engine Revamp | Tata Ace HT

With the Tata Chota Hathi increasing sales and production every month, it was time to improve the working formula. Small businesses showed interest in the first model and started using it for small goods transport needs. The Tata Mini Truck Ace HT engine got upgraded with a higher torque output of 40Nm and increased load capacity from 710 to 750KG. This change was specifically made to improve the power of the engine to pull weight under higher gears without causing any issues.

Fact: This was the same year when Tata Chota Hathi won BBC Top Gear’s ‘Design of the Year Award’ from the popular British Automobile Show, Top Gear.

2007 – Passenger Priority | Tata Ace Magic

The emphasis of the cargo and transportation on the Chota Hathi seemed to click well with the Indian demand – what was left were the passengers themselves. Since this vehicle was primarily in the commercial sector, Tata had begun eyeing the passenger consumer sector. They released the Tata Ace Magic with passenger priority in mind. Since India was using 3-wheeled vehicles for commuting, the Magic model was the first with four. It promised and delivered excellent mileage with best-in-class comfort for the passenger and the driver!

Fact: This was the same year that Tata crossed the 1 Lakh mark in sales.

2008 – Environment Priority | Tata Ace CNG

Emissions checks, carbon pollutants, and global warming were becoming important within the Indian automobile ecosystem. Tata followed with the release of a Chota Hathi that was CNG-powered, Tata Ace! Since Tata Motors started to see promise with the Tata Ace, they constructed the first dedicated plant in Pantnagar for more production and attention to the Tata Chota Hathi. This CNG variant was cheaper than the fuel variant and helped consumers save money.

2009Double The Power, Double The Performance| Tata Super Ace, Tata Ace EX

The demand for a Chota Hathi was increasing, and the need for engine performance was increasing too. The 0.5 ton Tata Tempo got one of its most prominent engine rebuilds with a brand new BS3 1.4 diesel-powered engine, almost double the capacity of the previous engine. They named it the Tata Super Ace. It churned out 70hp with a peak torque of 135nm. The previous Tata Ace model was reintroduced as the Ace EX with 2630mm of space, as the popular cargo vehicle. The revamp boosted the demand for the Chota Hathi as it was more robust and powerful than ever.

2010 A Great Day for Tata

Tata officially crossed the 5 lakh mark for the number of Chota Hathi units sold. No other commercial company in the market was seeing these numbers.

Fact: Tata was recording 1 lakh unit sales per year now.

2011 – Structure and Engine Revamp | Tata Magic IRIS, Tata Ace Zip

Tata then took their original Tata Chota Hathi engine and reduced the capacity to a more modest 600cc. This diesel engine produced 31 nm of torque and gave a top speed of 34kmph. This was launched as a response to the rickshaw market and production. The Chota Hathi, Magic Iris also had a good 15 kmpl mileage, that was excellent for a cargo vehicle. The Tata Zip was later released as the carrier version of the Magic Iris, priced at just INR 1.9 Lakhs.

2012 – Double the Sales

Tata officially recorded another 5 lakh units worth of sales in just two years and was still churning out a lakh sales per year for the Tata Chota Hathi.

2014 – Tata Super Ace Mint

Tata released the Tata Mini Truck Super Ace mint with almost all features decked up. This model came with Air Conditioning, a mileage of 17.5 kmpl, and a warranty of 2 years/ 1 lakh kilometers travelled. It had a 1.4-liter Dicor (Common Rail) BS4 Diesel Engine, which gave out approximately 70bhp of maximum power at around 4,000 to 4,500 rpm, making it popular in the Chota Hathi space.

2017 – Bigger Is Always Better | Tata Ace XL

The conventional tube tires were now replaced with tubeless tires to improve durability through wear and tear. The whooping 8.2ft worth of space behind the Chota Hathi was definitely a contender for the market. Safety features such as the anti-roll bar suspension made the Tata Ace easier to handle while transporting large cargo. By the end of that year, there were about 20,00,000 units of Tata Ace sold all over India!

Fact: In 2017, it was said that every 3 minutes, a Tata Ace Tempo was sold.

2020 – The Chota Hathi, Today | Tata Ace Gold Petrol

The consumers now started paying attention to the petrol-powered engine market as the price was almost similar to diesel. Tata then released the Gold Petrol variant of the Chota Hathi. It was BS6 compliant, churning out 30hp of power and 55nm of torque. This model came with a unique switch to change to the economical mode when there was no cargo to be carried, saving tons on fuel! This feature grew popular and led to a spike in Chota Hathi sales, as saving fuel was a priority for budget-tight transport companies.

The Variants of Tata Ace (Tata Chota Hathi, Tata Ace Tempo)

Today, Tata Motors is selling these variants of the Chota Hathi in the commercial cargo market –

Tata Ace – Gold Petrol Cx

Engine: 2-cylinder 694 cc NA multi-point fuel injection petrol engine

Torque Output: 55 Nm @ 2000 – 3000 r/min

Power Output: 18.38kW @ 4000 r/min

Tata Ace – Gold Petrol

Engine: Tata 275 Gasoline MPFI” BS-VI, 4 stroke water cooled engine

Torque Output: 22 kW@ 4000 RPM

Power Output: 22 kW@ 4000 RPM

Tata Ace – Gold CNG

Engine: Water cooled, multipoint gas injection 694 cc CNG engine

Torque Output: 50 Nm @ 2500 RPM

Power Output: 19.4kW (26 hp) @ 4000 RPM

Tata Ace – Gold Diesel

Engine: 2 cylinder, 700 CC Naturally Aspirated DI Engine

Torque Output: 45 NM @ 1800-2000 RPM

Power Output: 14.7 kW@ 3600 RPM

Tata Ace – Gold Diesel Plus

Engine: 2-cylinder, 700 cc DI engine

Torque Output: 14.7kW @ 3 600 r/min

Power Output: 45 Nm @ 1800 – 2 000 r/min


Tata has clearly dominated the commercial cargo scene and has proven that the Chota Hathi is indeed as strong as its other counterparts. The vehicle has gone through years of consumer use and is still, and maybe will be, one of the best commercial mini-trucks available in the market. The durable engine, robust chassis design, and versatile framework allows Chota Hathi to be India’s favorite mini-truck.

The pride of Tata Ace/ Tata Chota Hathi can be seen on all Indian roads, with almost all transport companies choosing to use this for their commercial needs. While the Chota Hathi is every transporter’s pride, Vahak is by every transporter’s side! Vahak is India’s leading transport app, helping truck drivers and shippers find loads and lorries within minutes. Our online transport marketplace is free to use and covers 15,000+ locations. Check out our web marketplace or download our Android app today and get load for your Chota Hathi!

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