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Tata Motor chalks complete transformation by 2020

Saturday, 23 August 2014 - 7:05am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

To come out with a barrage of passenger vehicle products with the help of JLR, to phase out some existing cars; looks to change brand perception

Tata Motors, which has not launched new products for a while in the passenger vehicle segment barring Zest recently, is readying a product onslaught in order to save the ailing unit.

As part of its passenger vehicle product pipeline till 2020, the company is looking to enter and create new segments, with contribution from its UK-based subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

The company will also phase out some existing cars.

"We have a clear plan, either there will be a product intervention on the existing product or it will get repositioned, or some of the products will get phased out," said Girish Wagh, senior vice-president, programme planning & project management, Tata Motors.

Tata Motors plans to launch two new products every year till 2020, starting with Zest (compact sedan), which was launched last week and Bolt (hatchback) that will be launched later this year.

Wagh said the company is looking to fill gaps and enter segments where it has been lacking in presence, which will be a mix of facelifts, new products, mid-cycle enhancements, etc.

"From customers perspective, it should be almost new products," said Wagh.

"We will bring in products which either address some of the existing segments or we are also known to create new segments. IndiGo CS was the first compact sedan in the segment," he said.

After launching Aria four years ago, Tata Motors recently launched launched Zest, a sub-4 metre compact sedan, to address the increasing demand for cars in this category.
Currently, Maruti Suzuki, Honda Cars India and Hyundai Motor dominate the segment.

Known for its sports utility vehicles (SUVs), Tata Motors's future products will be a mix of soft-roaders (compact SUVs) and rugged and traditional SUVs, the company said.

"You will see a lot of action in the SUV segment. In UVs over the last two years, customers have migrated from traditional SUVs to soft roaders or on-roaders, and that has doubled the market for the segment. So going ahead we will therefore have action in the soft-roaders, but we will continue to play in the off-roaders category as well," said Wagh.

The company had showcased its compact SUV concept – Nexon – at this year's Auto Expo, which is expected to be launched next year.

Despite being one of the strongest players in the SUV segment and pioneered certain segments (with Nano and IndiGo CS, the company lost out to competition owing to lack of new launches and perception issue.

Pratap Bose, head of design for Tata Motors, said the company and his team is working towards changing the perception of Tata cars, keeping design into perceptive.

"Though we are working on engines, engineering, etc, I want to make sure that all our cars look desirable."

"Perception is an issue, there is no doubt about that, but we already have strong fundamentals of our products. So we are going to be little more courageous about the design and processes."

Experts feel the transformation process is not going to easy for Tata Motors. The domestic passenger vehicle business continues to struggle, while competition is only going to get intense. Company's passenger vehicle sales declined 35.96% during April-July this fiscal compared with the same period last year. In fiscal 2014, the company's volumes declined 36.78% over fiscal 2013, as per the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

The company is also in the process of transforming Nano into a smart city car. According to Wagh, various changes in the Nano will also be part of the 10 products lined up till 2020. A face-lifted Nano is due for a launch this year or next year, as per sources.

The company is also strengthening its synergies with JLR, in various areas like design and engineering.

"We have very good synergy with JLR and we have decided the areas where we are going to share. Not just technology sharing, there is a lot of sharing in terms of knowledge. So we have some very good exchange which is happening with JLR," Wagh said.

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