The previous financial year (FY18) belonged to Tata Motors in more ways than one. The country’s biggest commercial vehicle maker reclaimed leadership position in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) space from rival M&M after a gap of two years. Besides, the Mumbai-headquartered company also overtook Japanese car maker Honda to occupy the fourth spot in the domestic passenger vehicle market.
Making the most of a revival in demand for LCVs, Tata Motors closed the year with a 33 per cent jump in domestic sales. Against a volume of 156,719 units in FY17, sales of these vehicles jumped to a total of 208,443 units, the highest in recent few years. This growth of 33 per cent is even better than the 31 per cent expansion clocked by the company’s passenger vehicle (cars and utility vehicles) segment. Along with medium and heavy commercial vehicles, the company’s CV segment posted a 23 per cent growth during the year.
M&M did not do badly either as far as LCV is concerned, hitting a growth rate of 20 per cent for the entire fiscal to sell 206,074 units. But it lost the lead of over 12,000 units it had gained over rival Tata Motors in FY16 riding on demand for its pick-ups. The lead in FY17 was even bigger at 16,000 units. But the situation stands reversed in FY18 with Tata enjoying a small lead of over 2,300 units, helped by a 33 per cent growth.
Tata Motors introduced the XL series of Ace range of LCV and the Xenon Yodha in FY18, which has helped it gain market share. “The increased demand for vehicles across segments and production ramp-up of the new range of BSIV vehicles has given a strong boost to the overall sales growth. We have strengthened our network and dealerships, across the country, to be able to service our customers better,” said a company spokesperson. LCV demand, the company said, is being driven by third party logistics, e-commerce, FMCG, agriculture based sectors, government/municipal applications and construction sectors.
LCV consists of goods carriers and passenger carriers and the former forms over 90 per cent of the segment. M&M remains a leader in the goods carrier segment though it is a much smaller player in passenger carriers. “At M&M, we are the leaders in goods category with a market share of 47 per cent. We achieved our highest ever annual sales in the goods segment in FY18, clocking almost 200,000 units and a 20 per cent growth,” said Veejay Ram Nakra, chief of sales & marketing (automotive division) at M&M.
He added that Mahindra has one of the widest LCV range to cater to the varied needs of cargo transportation. The company introduced a guaranteed resale value and two years of free maintenance on the Bolero pick up and Maxitruck range in February, besides introducing the Supro heavy duty series of LCVs. It believes these will help it further expand the market share in the new fiscal.
Tata Motors is not ready to give up either. It plans to launch the Tata Intra LCV in FY19 with features like powerful engine, improved ergonomics, a walk through cabin, highest loading capacity and air-conditioning. “We will continue to deliver superior value to the customers thus reducing the total cost of operation and improving revenue potential,” the spokesperson added.
In passenger vehicles (PV), the company has outperformed the market by driving volumes, backed by new products like Tiago, Tigor, Hexa and Nexon, besides enhancing service at workshops. “We want to be among the top three brands in the customer's consideration set. Going forward, with a well-defined PV strategy and robust product pipeline, we are confident of sustaining strong growth,” Tata Motors spokesperson added. Having overtaken Honda, it is eyeing the third position, now held by M&M.
The expansion in volume and cost reduction initiatives helped Tata Motors report its first quarterly profit during the October-December period of FY18 after five consecutive loss-making quarters. The spokesperson said the company is committed to a ‘turnaround’. Last week, Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata encouraged the Tata Motors team to plan for becoming leaders again. He added that it hurt him when the auto maker lost market share in the last 4-5 years and the country looked at it as a 'failing company'. Tata was addressing the annual townhall of company’s employees after a gap of almost five years.