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Tata Motors sees Slym's plan delivering results soon

Monday, 7 July 2014 - 6:40am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

A year into Horizonext, the company says it has achieved excellence standards at its plants and showrooms; expects Zest to turn its fortunes

Almost a year ago, Tata Motors launched Horizonext, one of its biggest campaigns to lift fortunes of its sagging domestic passenger vehicle (PV) division.

Spearheaded by late Karl Slym, company's former managing director, Horizonext marked the new beginning for the PV business.

For the company which lost out to competition owing to issues related to quality and lack of new products, Horizonext promised to fill the gaps based on four pillars -- intense product focus, world-class manufacturing practices, customer purchase experience and quality of service.

A year down the line, things haven't changed much for the company.

While the industry is going through a slowdown, company's PV volumes continue to see sharper decline compared to its peers. At the same time, competition is getting tougher, with carmakers announcing or launching new products.

However, according to Tata Motors, a lot has changed since last year.

"As you know, it was a challenging year for the industry and particularly for us. We had challenges on volumes, etc. But the key thing is that we have built up the foundations. But is the journey done? I would say no. We have enough things to do from our side. But we have set ourselves well to take advantage of the market," said Ranjit Yadav, president, passenger vehicle business units, Tata Motors.

The company claims that it has been aggressively working towards meeting its four goals defined under Horizonext.

"As of last year, we have achieved WCQ (World Class Quality) level one in both our plants - Sanand and Pune. This year, we have achieved WCQ level 2 in one of the plants," said Yadav.

"While on the sales side, if you see JD Power's results two years back, we ranked 12th out of 12 in our sales experience. We made it very hard for our customers to deal with us. Number of things were done – we have upgraded our showrooms, service centres - making it easier for customers to interact with us," he said.

"So with all this, we moved to 7th from 12th last year, and this year we hope to hit the top 3," he said.

In few weeks from now, the company will launch its critical model – the Zest – a sub-4 metre sedan, which is expected to decide the fate of company's PV volumes. Its new hatchback – Bolt, which was also showcased at this year's Auto Expo – is slated for a launch in the later part of the year.

The company is optimistic that the new vehicles will be a big boost to its PV business backed with new design and technology.

"Our vehicles will be defined on three verticals -DesignNext, DiveNext and ConnectNext," said Yadav.

While DesignNext covers the new design of the vehicles, under DiveNext the new vehicles will feature company's new petrol engine (Revotron), a segment where the company has remained underserved. As part of ConnectNext – the company claims to offer best in class infotainment system with 5 inch touch screens, multimedia applications, ability to connect to various devices, voice recognition etc – which are first in the segment.

Experts are however sceptical of company's recovery, especially in PVs.

"Sales of Tata Motors have been falling month-on-month and it is sharper than the industry. In the past two months, most companies have posted positive volumes while Tata Motors domestic PV is still under mess. With new brands, the company will have to start on a clean slate. And Zest and Bolt would still cover only one part of the segment, their Nano and MUVs are still weak. Zest and Bolt are perhaps the only chance for the company to re-energise its volumes," said Deepesh Rathore, director of Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors, a New Delhi-based research group.

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