Tata Motors plans slew of launches

Tata Motors is planning a slew of launches, including those of a more powerful Nano, sports utility vehicles based on the Land Rover and upgrades to other models, over the next few years, to arrest the decline in its sales.

That’s not all. The company will also roll out other small cars, apart from the Nano, from the Sanand plant in Gujarat before the end of this financial year. The plant, with a capacity of 300,000 units a year, has been operating at less than 20 per cent capacity utilisation since the beginning of last financial year.

The company believes that no significant changes will have to be made at the plant, as only small cars will be produced there. Among other small cars in the company’s line-up are the Indica and the Vista.

The Mumbai-based company on Wednesday showcased an improved Nano (2013 model). It was one of the eight refreshed products, across five brands, that the carmaker unveiled on Wednesday. The others were improved versions of the Indigo CS, Sumo Gold and Safari Storme.

Going forward, the Nano, launched three years back, is likely to get an upgraded and more powerful engine so that it can compete well with rivals, such as the Maruti Alto or the Hyundai Eon, which are currently positioned higher.

The sales of the Tata Nano fell 28 per cent to 53,848 units last financial year and 88 per cent to 1,014 units last month (compared with the same month the previous year). But Tata Motors believes the mini car presents a lot of opportunity and calls it an ‘open canvas’.

Tata Motors MD Karl Slym on Wednesday said: “As we go forward, the Nano could be a lot of other things — it is a canvas on which many things can be done. It presents opportunities like those given by the Mini Cooper or the Fiat 500.”

Tata Motors, once a dominant player in the utility vehicle space, has lost its market to Mahindra & Mahindra over the past decade. To regain lost ground and further strengthen its line-up, it is exploring the option of launching products developed using the platform of the Land Rover models.

The firm’s current UV line-up includes the Safari Storme, the Sumo range and the Aria. “We have got the Aria and the Safari, which share the Land Rover platform. There is certainly an opportunity to share the platform in the SUV area. Besides, we also have our own variants which are to be built,” Slym added.

The company also plans to enter new platforms, such as the urban SUV (soft roader).

The planned moves are expected to shore up Tata Motors sales, which fell 15 per cent last financial year to 314,464 units. The decline in domestic sales in the first two months of this financial year — of 35 per cent to 34,594 units compared with the same period last year — was the steepest among volume-generating passenger vehicle makers.

Slym said the market for new passenger cars in India was expected to remain muted this year. The growth may remain “flattish”, he said. A diesel Nano, he said, “will be launched soon”, declining to comment if the target would be this year.

There will be new platforms by the company in the coming period. The company is exploring segments which it is not into presently such as the urban SUV (soft roader) and the also in those segments which it is current playing such as the small car segment.

Complete with a fully new product line in the coming period Tata Motors expects to arrest the fall in domestic sales where it has slipped to fourth position from the third position. Tata Motors recorded a fall of 15% last financial year to post sales of 314,464 units.

The fall in the first two months is domestic sales was the steepest for Tata Motors amongst any the volume generating passenger vehicle makers. Sales fell by 35% during the two months to 34,594 units compared to the same period last year.

Tata Motors launched today following (all prices ex-showroom, Delhi)

Indigo eCS Rs 4.49 lakh Sumo Gold rs 5.83 lakh Nano Rs 1.5 lakh Indica Rs 3.99 lakh