“If you add one more wheel to my three-wheeler, I may get the marriage proposals I need,” said a Coimbatore-based three-wheeler customer interacting with a Tata Motors executive, which somewhere inspired the company in launching a completely new segment.
Launched in 2005, the Tata Ace (0.75 tonne mini truck) or famously called “Chota Haathi” and its sister vehicle (launched in 2007) Magic - the passenger variant, together crossed one million sales market in August this year.
According to the company’s estimates, ever since the launch of sub one-tonne Ace, every fourth commercial vehicle (CV) sold in the market today is an Ace or a Magic. Girish Wagh headed the Ace project, before starting the Nano project for Tata Motors. With Ace, Tata Motors filled a gap in the lower end of the CVs, which was dominated by three-wheelers. According to the company, about 60% of Ace’s customers are semi-educated youth and the vehicle helped in generating employment opportunities in the semi-urban and rural areas.
With an initial production capacity of 30,000 units a year in Pune, the company’s dedicated plant in Pantnangar today has a manufacturing capacity of 500,000 units a year. The company currently has a 78-80% market share in the Ace category.
The company currently has around 10 variants on the Ace platform and is looking to launch about 7-8 new models/variants. The company has already started manufacturing the new Ace Dicor, which will be a more fuel-efficient variant.
Tata Motors is even looking at further taking expanding the presence of Ace in the international markets. “Out of the one million vehicles that we have sold, 60,000 units were exports. So far we have focused on South Asian markets. We are looking at further expanding to other geographies like Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and some parts of Middle East,” said Ravindra Pisharody, executive director – commercial vehicles, Tata Motors.
A facelift of the Ace is also on the cards, which will be launched by the next year.