Men ride a motorbike as they come out of a past a Tata Motors car plant at Sanand in Gujarat. File Photo: Reuters
Tata Motors is betting big on its upcoming model compact SUV Nexon as it prepares to enter the fastest growing segment in the Indian passenger vehicles market by September, say senior company officials.
Nexon will be the last vehicle on the platform on which the company has developed earlier models such as hatchback Bolt and compact sedan Zest.
The model is slated to be launched in September, around the festive season.
It will be hitting the market at a time when Chairman N Chandrasekaran has stated that turning around the domestic business of the company was "the need of the hour", as it has suffered from delays in new product launches, lack of adequate response to competition and an unsustainable cost structure.
According to Tata Motors President, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Mayank Pareek the compact SUV is the fastest growing segment in Indian car market clocking 180 per cent expansion last year.
"Around five years back there was nothing like compact SUV but suddenly it came from nowhere and now it is 12 per cent of the total market, which is huge," Pareek told PTI.
Last fiscal, the Indian passenger car market crossed 3 million units annual sales, to 30,46,727 units, clocking a growth of 9.23 per cent.
Underlining the significance of the Nexon, Pareek said: "We are entering that segment now and are quite confident that anybody who is looking to buy a compact SUV will consider it.
After that, we are confident that we have a product which he will vote for."
The Nexon will compete with the likes of Maruti Suzuki's Vitara Brezza, Ford Ecosport, Honda WR-V and Hyundai Creta which are priced in the range of Rs 7.1 lakh and Rs 14 lakh.
Features such as mandatory ABS and dual airbags, JLR inspired multi-mode drives, infotainment by Harman with eight speakers and four amplifiers along with two brand new diesel and petrol engines would be among the main attractions of Nexon, Pareek said.
Tata Motors President and Chief Technical Officer Tim Leverton said as the company is a late entrant in the segment, it has focused on providing those differentiating features in order to win customers.
The company had started working on the compact SUV way back in 2012-13.
"We knew that the segment was going to grow. At that time the segment was very nascent, it was much smaller. So we had to anticipate what was going to happen but we realised that we probably wouldn't be the first to into the segment," he said.
Therefore, Leverton added, "we needed to do something different and with Nexon we've done several things. We have brought a vehicle concept which is a strong combination of SUV attribute together with a design which is very sporty." The combination of strength of SUV on the lower body with a sporty feel from the roof is a departure from boxy SUV, he added.
"The 1.2 little petrol engine and 1.5 little diesel engine, both of which are brand new engines have been created for this car but also for our future products," Leverton said.
He said as Nexon will be the sixth model to be launch since 2014, after Zest, Bolt, Tiago, HEXA and Tigor, Tata Motors has incorporated a lot or learning from the previous models and improved on them.
When asked about future models based on the platform on which Nexon is built, he said: "This will be the last car on this platform and I think we made clear that our future strategy we'd move to the modular platform. This car will run in production for so long and when it gets replaced we go onto the new platform base."