Frugal Engineering is the applied science of breaking up complex engineering processes into its basic components and then re-building each component in the most economical manner. It is most commonly applied to product development in the developing world context, although it is gaining traction in developed world markets. The central tenet behind every frugal engineering decision is maximizing value to the customer while minimizing nonessential costs.[1]

The end result is a simpler, more robust and easier to handle final process. It also results in a much less expensive final product which does the same job qualitatively and quantitatively as a more expensive complexly engineered product.

Frugal engineering is an overarching philosophy that enables a true “clean sheet” approach to product development. Cost discipline is an intrinsic part of the process, but rather than simply cutting existing costs, frugal engineering seeks to avoid needless costs in the first place.[2]


The term frugal engineering was coined in 2006 by Renault Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn to describe the competency of Indian engineers in developing products like Tata Motors’ Nano, the pint-sized, low-cost automobile.


References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Importance of Frugal Engineering: Providing new goods and services to “bottom of the pyramid” customers requires a radical rethinking of product development. by Vikas Sehgal, Kevin Dehoff, and Ganesh Panneer
  2. The Importance of Frugal Engineering: Providing new goods and services to “bottom of the pyramid” customers requires a radical rethinking of product development. by Vikas Sehgal, Kevin Dehoff, and Ganesh Panneer
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Published 2010
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