Looking Ahead: ‘Expect more from Tata Motors’

| Updated on December 31, 2013 Published on December 31, 2013

Karl Slym

“There is an important need for steps to improve the economic sentiment that serves as a catalyst for overall economic growth, not just the auto business.”

Karl Slym

The year 2013 has been one of the toughest for the Indian auto industry. The industry seen a slowdown in FY 2012-13, which has further continued in FY14. The major challenge faced by the industry over FY2012-13 has been slowing economic and infrastructure growth, coupled with negative consumer sentiment. The commercial vehicle industry, which witnesses cyclical slowdowns, is facing a greater challenge as the current slowdown has been prolonged, with the heavy truck market declining year-on-year for seven quarters in a row. Since Q4 FY2012-13, consumption demand has also seen significant deceleration, thus impacting demand for commercial vehicles.

But there are two important factors we must remember — at least the first part of the new year is likely to remain a challenging one as we do not yet see significant changes in the country's macroeconomic situation. And that poses a continued challenge to all of us. There is an important need for steps to improve the economic sentiment that serves as a catalyst for overall economic growth, not just the auto business.

These include major government steps towards infrastructure, phased lift on the ban in mining, clarity on investment in different sectors, a rational look at taxation across industries including automotive, and speedy implementation of policies and schemes that strongly position India as a key investment destination.

Key role

Globally, government interventions have played a key role in restoring automobile demand in their respective markets, given the implications on economic revival and employment generation. For one, it is important to look at a more rational tax structure as well as a revival of government buying. There is also a need for greater focus on road infrastructure and developing, promoting and modernising public transport.

The latter calls for a holistic look at public transport including alternative fuels — we have already seen some success with CNG in a few markets — as well as updating policies. For instance, we now have highly competitive four-wheeler products that could equally ply as the last mile transport while offering greater user-safety and are more environment-friendly.

An incentivised fleet modernisation policy for the replacement of vehicles in 10 years for commercial vehicles and 15 years for passenger vehicles will not just help the industry but, more importantly, bring safer and less-polluting vehicles on our roads.

Global products

The other major change is an even more globalised customer, demanding a more exciting product backed by great service experience. Our own experiences in the commercial vehicles business is a great learning. We have successfully grown our market share in trucks and buses in a declining market, simply because we continue to offer great products and low total cost of ownership backed by great service. This is something we will now also bring back into our passenger vehicles business — global products that offer design aesthetics matched with great performance.

Our response at Tata Motors has been to define our Horizonext, a four-pronged strategy based on intense product focus, world-class manufacturing quality and enriched customer sales and service experience. We began to see some validation of these efforts with a significantly improved ranking in the JD Powers Sales Survey. 2014 will really see the fruition of our strategy — we are all set to bring in completely new range of cars, with an all-new petrol engine that we believe will challenge some of the existing status quo in the passenger car industry.

Trucks to the fore

The commercial vehicles space will also see a slew of launches in the coming year. We realise that trucking is at the heart of a nation's economy and our world class big and small trucks will not only bring great product performance but also continue to enhance customer value to help its customers better meet the challenges of a difficult macroeconomic situation. We are also revamping our customer touch-points to offer modern, technology-enabled showrooms and service centres.

So we expect 2014 to be a really exciting year as the industry brings in all-new products and Tata Motors will certainly look to surprise the passenger car industry with new benchmarks in product and service excellence while continuing to lead from the front in the commercial vehicles industry. 2014 for Tata Motors is all about more global products for India that merge design and performance in an increasingly connected world, more global markets to bring within our domain, great new innovative ways to reach out to our customers from our own touch-points and in the virtual world, continue to innovate with technology, be it with our play across conventional or alternative fuels, be in the human-machine interface, be it for customer service.

We want our customers to expect more from us in 2014 and we will passionately work to deliver global products.

The author is the Managing Director of Tata Motors.

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Published on December 31, 2013
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