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Tata eyes return to top 3 with new cars

Tata Motors is eyeing a return to the top 3 in the Indian passenger vehicle industry on the back of a slew of car launches in the coming years. Crippled by a dry product pipeline and the failure of its low-cost Nano, the company slid out of the top 5 as Honda, Mahindra and Toyota edged ahead.

autos Updated: Dec 11, 2014 11:32 IST
Sumant Banerji

Tata Motors is eyeing a return to the top 3 in the Indian passenger vehicle industry on the back of a slew of car launches in the coming years.

Crippled by a dry product pipeline and the failure of its low-cost Nano, the company slid out of the top 5 as Honda, Mahindra and Toyota edged ahead. With at least two launches planned every year till the end of this decade, Mayank Pareek, president of passenger vehicles, Tata Motors said the target is to regain the original position behind Maruti and Hyundai. Tata’s sales declined 37% in 2013-14 and has dropped 15% so far in 2014-15.

“I cannot say what went wrong earlier because I was not here,” said Pareek who joined Tata in October after a two-decade stint at Maruti.

“The future looks bright and we have a robust pipeline. Tata was never strong in the petrol segment, which is growing due to the current fuel prices, but with the Revotron engine we are plugging that gap. I am not happy with our position today, but the aspiration is to be in the top 3.”

Once a favourite with fleet operators, Tata’s bread-and-butter cars—Indica and Indigo—suffered as the image conscious Indian consumer was reluctant to buy a vehicle that was perceived as a cab. Pareek said there would be rationalisation of existing products, but defended the stuttering Nano.

“We will look at rationalisation of existing products but I will not tell you which cars we will discontinue,” he said. “We will position it (Nano) as a smart city car and not as a low-frills budget car. Consumer satisfaction with Nano’s customers is the highest among all our cars and it gives us hope.”

The company will launch a new hatchback Bolt early next year and is expected to follow it up with another hatchback and compact sedan. A compact SUV to take on Ford EcoSport and Renault Duster is slated for 2016.