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2 new cars every year, says Tata

Monday, 10 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Greater Noida | Agency: DNA
Expo 2014 boosts sentiment toward auto stocks; key shares up 1-3%

From now on, Tata Motors will launch a couple of new models every year. Details are awaited whether the new cars would be on brand new platforms or variants of existing models.

After lagging rivals, and driven by the realisation that lack of new products has hurt it, the Tata flagship is plotting a comeback in the Indian passenger vehicles market with a sense of urgency.

With the new hatchback Bolt and compact sedan Zest slated for launch in the second half of this year, the firm is looking for the much-needed kick-start for revival under its 2020 product plan.

"We are working very hard on product development," said Tata Motors president (passenger vehicles business unit) Ranjit Yadav. "The Nexon, for example, would be commercialised and will be available for sale in the next 24 months. The portfolio will get up filled very quickly."

The Nexon is a concept compact sports utility vehicle or SUV unveiled at the Auto Expo 2014. Between the Nexon, Bolt and the Zest, there would be many other launches.

Tata Motors, Yadav said, aims to be a "podium finisher" in the passenger vehicles market. "There is a backlog which we have to catch up, something we have to exceed."

Tata Motors has fallen behind rival Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) in the pecking order in India. In the April-January period of this fiscal, the company's passenger vehicle sales stood at 1,14,490 units as against 1,99,186 units in the year-ago period, down 42%.

Yadav said: "If you look at the global markets, we are not a very large passenger vehicle manufacturer, if we have to be successful, then we have to be faster. That's the attempt from our side."

Meanwhile, market analysts said the positive sentiment generated by the flurry of vehicle launches at the ongoing Auto Expo 2014 in Delhi may well have spread to auto shares which rose 1-3% last week (see table).

The rise is small, but appears significant when viewed against the lowest point of the week. Take Maruti, for instance. The stock had touched a low of Rs 1,540 just before the Expo started. Analysts were perturbed by its decision to let its parent company Suzuki do the manufacturing in Gujarat.

However, after the company unveiled the much-awaited gearless small car Celerio at a starting price of Rs 3.90 lakh, and its SX4 S-Cross, the stock has steadily moved higher and has closed the week at Rs 1,664.95, a good 8% up.

Similarly, M&M has risen over 6% from its low point after the company surprised everyone with its electric sports car Halo and motorcycle Mahindra Mojo.

For its part, Tata displayed 18 vehicles across passenger and commercial vehicle segments under its HorizoNext programme. Its stock soared 8.4% from its low point in four trading days, analysts said.

But it would be premature to uncork champagne now, they said. For, the last couple of years have been tough for the auto industry, which is heading for its first sales drop in 12 years, a period that saw Auto Expo come into being. 

—With inputs from PTI

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