BTVI caught up with Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director - Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors, at 2016 SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufactures) Annual Meeting. Excerpts:
The auto industry has been passing through an interesting time since the beginning of this year. It is pretty volatile, passing through both a good and a bad phase. Where do you see Tata Motors in the middle of all this?
Volatile is a good description, but optimism is justified as well. The underlying fundamental seems to be good. The problems which were there in 2014, seem to be behind us. The GDP factor is positive. The things which are worrying the industry production index will also start recovering now with car demand and two-wheeler demand picking up. Yes, there are some headwinds around uncertain areas. But rural economy should pick up post monsoon.
What about Tata Motors and your own growth story? How have you performed, and what is the outlook?
If you see the commercial business result of 2015-16, you can see that we have had a positive EBITDA compared with the previous year. Even our first-quarter results are looking very healthy. So I think the recovery as far as the series is concerned have been quite good for the auto industry as well as Tata Motors.
There has been a bit of a slowdown in the last two months only on SUVs. I think buses and SUVs continue to do well. If you talk about the market, it seems to be saying that there has been a delay. But the pipeline is still very strong.
So I think, if I look at the economy improving, the rural demand coming back after the monsoon, the introduction of the 7th Pay Commission, the GST Bill, there are a lot of reasons for the the industry to be optimistic.
What about the new launches that keep the market excited?
We have been marketing our buses for more than a year now. The Ultra platform for buses gives us more width. In the next 12 months, the marketing thrust will be on the LCV (light commercial vehicles) trucks on Ultra, which has a very smart cabin. We were partly waiting for a new-generation 3-litre engine. The real future is in our 3-litre and 5-litre engines because they are good for BSVI standards, too. So a lot of vehicles are getting configured for BSIII, but mainly for BSIV on the 3-litre and 5-litre engines.