Falls from balcony of a hotel in Bangkok

Karl Slym, Managing Director of Tata Motors, died in Thailand on Sunday. He was 51. According to sources, Slym accidentally fell off a hotel balcony in Bangkok where he was attending a meeting of the board of directors of Tata Motors Thailand.

There is no official confirmation about the cause of death.

In a press release issued here, Tata Motors said Slym was “providing leadership to the company through a challenging market environment.”

Chairman Cyrus Mistry extended his condolences in a message, where he said he was “deeply saddened about the untimely and tragic demise” of Slym.

“Karl joined us in October 2012, and was a valued colleague who was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry,” Mistry added.

The death of Slym came as a huge shock to the industry and to those who knew him well. Vikram Kirloskar, President, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, said Slym was a “staunch supporter” of SIAM.

“We have lost a well-wisher in Karl at a time when the company and industry needed his global expertise, leadership and guidance.” Harish Lakshman, President, Automotive Manufacturers Association of India, said.

Slym was seen as someone who was critical to the turnaround of Tata Motors, especially its passenger car business.

A beginning had already been made with the launch of Horizonext where Slym had outlined a strategy to ensure the best customer experience. The more recent launch of the Nano Twist also indicated his intent for Tata Motors to get out of the ‘cheap car’ image. Slym began his career with Toyota before moving to General Motors where he spent 17 years in a host of regions, including India and China. He was an alumnus of Stanford University and a Sloan Fellow.

rajesh.kurup@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 26, 2014)
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