Tata Mo­tors Bets on Ti­ago to Take on Cele­rio & i10

Priced ag­gres­sively at .₹ 3.2 L to .₹ 5.54 L, co feels the new car will be a game changer

The Economic Times - - Companies - Ke­tan.Thakkar@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: Guenter Butschek, the newly ap­pointed manag­ing di­rec­tor of Tata Mo­tors, said the “trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney” at the com­pany’s pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle divi­sion has be­gun. He plans to put the brand on a “speed­boat” as it looks to re­turn to the top three in the com­ing decade.

In­tro­duc­ing the Ti­ago hatch­back, the com­pany’s first se­ri­ous of­fer­ing in the small car space in the last seven years, Butschek said on Wed­nes­day that the re­cently con­cluded Auto Expo in Delhi had marked the “start of a new jour­ney.” Tata Mo­tors show­cased four new-gen­er­a­tion cars at the expo.

With the Ti­ago, its first all-new small car since the Nano, the com­pany is tak­ing the bat­tle to Maruti Suzuki’s Cele­rio and Wagon R and Hyundai’s i10 and i10 Grand, a mar­ket of 40,000 to 45,000 units a month. The model has been ag­gres­sively priced at .₹ 3.2 lakh to .₹ 5.54 lakh, which is .₹ 50,000 to .₹ 1.2 lakh lower than ri­vals, but has fea­tures seen in pricier seg­ments. Butschek said the com­bi­na­tion of prod­uct and price will make Ti­ago a game changer.

“The price po­si­tion is ad­dress­ing small-car buy­ers with fea­tures seen in high-end (cars). It’s this sweet spot that makes Ti­ago a game changer. Ti­ago is not just a new prod­uct, it is an essen­tial part of our trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney, not only out in the mar­ket, but also in­ter­nally,” said Butschek, a Ger­man na­tional.

The do­mes­tic car op­er­a­tions of Tata Mo­tors have done poorly in the past few years with a lack­lus­tre lineup of cars. This was off­set by the stel­lar per­for­mance of the Jaguar Land Rover unit but a flag­ging Chi­nese econ­omy has taken a toll on this as well.

Fol­low­ing the Nano set­back, the pro- duct pipeline of Tata Mo­tors dried up for two-three years, lead­ing to a slide in mar­ket share. The late Karl Slym, Butschek’s pre­de­ces­sor, sought to ad­dress this by putting the build­ing blocks in place be­fore his un­timely death. Butschek, a for­mer Air­bus COO as well as a veteran of Mercedes Benz, cred­its Tata Sons chair­man Cyrus Mistry with steer­ing the prod­uct strat­egy in the in­ter­reg­num.

At his dis­posal are a range of prod­ucts that were de­fined a few years back — the sub-four-me­tre sedan Kite 5, com­pact SUV Nexon and cross­over Hexa. All of these are in seg­ments that are grow­ing. “Thanks to our chair­man Cyrus Mistry, who has done a fab­u­lous job with the team here to re­ally bring very ex­cit­ing prod­ucts into the pipeline, based on three el­e­ments of global man­u­fac­tur­ing qual­ity, new de­sign lan­guage and (be­ing) ahead on tech­nol­ogy,” Butschek said.

Ti­ago’s price and prod­uct po­si­tion­ing will chal­lenge the top three car mak­ers, Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra, he said.

His core fo­cus will be to de­liver speed along with sim­plic­ity, which will help the com­pany to be ag­ile and re­act to the chang­ing ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment quickly, Butschek said. His im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity is to de­fine what the brand stands for in the highly com­pet­i­tive In­dian mar­ket. He is aware of the per­cep­tion of Tata Mo­tors as a fleet car maker.

“The iden­ti­fy­ing process” has be­gun and the brand state­ment will be crit­i­cal not only for the out­side world but key to in­ter­nal trans­for­ma­tion as well, Butschek said.

ON A TRANS­FOR­MA­TION JOUR­NEY Tata Mo­tors manag­ing di­rec­tor Guenter Butschek with the new car Ti­ago at its launch in Mum­bai on Wed­nes­day

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