Tata Motors has reached halfway in its ambitious target of becoming the third-biggest car player in the domestic market. It has risen one spot in the pecking order to occupy the fourth position by overtaking Japanese carmaker Honda during the last five-month period.
Helped by three new products launched in 2017 - Hexa, Tigor, Nexon SUV (sport utility vehicle), and Tiago (launched last year) - the company has overtaken Honda in domestic volumes sold during July-November. Tata Motors sold 80,191 units during the last five months, against Honda’s 78,760 vehicles. Honda is still ahead if one goes by the April-November data at 117,322 units (versus Tata’s 115,049 units), but Tata may well close this gap with the Nexon, launched in September. Nexon, a compact SUV, has crossed production of 10,000 units by end of November, giving the company an additional monthly volume of over 3,000 units. In FY17, Honda had sold 157,313 vehicles in the domestic market, while Tata’s volume was at 153,151 units.
“Tata Motors’ passenger vehicle business is on its turnaround course. With our turnaround strategy in place, we have been responding faster to market by not only launching new products but also introducing new variants of the existing products,” said a company spokesperson.
The company has resorted to an aggressive pricing strategy for all its new products as well. While that may not help it turn its passenger vehicle business profitable, it is certainly driving the volumes. N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Motors, had said in October that every car made by the company in the domestic market is losing money. So, the company will have to work on striking a balance between volume and profitability even as it aims to overtake Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) to emerge the third-biggest player by 2019. Maruti Suzuki is the biggest player in the world’s fifth-largest car market, followed by Hyundai and M&M.
Tata has plans to launch more products to gain volume in the coming year. It is said to be working on the launch of a premium hatchback and another SUV. “We want to fill white spaces in the market and bring new variants/products faster to the market and provide an exciting package to our customers. We want to not only enhance the brand perception, but also align well with the rising aspirations of customers,” the spokesperson added.
Honda has grown sales by 19 per cent during April-November to 117,322 units. Tata Motors in the same period has grown 13 per cent to 115,049 units. Honda’s growth is helped by a low base of last year when its sales had declined 18 per cent and the launch of new City and the urban crossover WRV. “We have an aggressive plan to make six big launches in the next three years. We are certain that Honda will further increase its sales and strengthen the presence in the Indian market,” Yoichiro Ueno, president and chief executive officer, Honda Cars India, said last month. But whether Honda is able to hold on to its fourth position for this year is something that will be decided in the next three months.