Over 70 per cent of Tata Motors’ customers in rural India, who are first-time car buyers, opt for an SUV. The automaker is curating its SUV vehicle offerings to cater to the changing demand in the domestic market. Vinay Pant, Head of Marketing at Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles Ltd spoke to Businessline on its increasing SUV market share, changing consumer demands, and an uptick in SUV sales in the hinterland. 

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Q

 Tata Motors gained 31 per cent market share in compact SUVs in FY23 and crossed the 1 million mark. What percentage of market share in the SUV segment is Tata Motors targeting for FY24?

As we look ahead to FY24, our goal is to further strengthen our presence in the SUV segment. We do not comment on volume projections but remain dedicated to delivering high-quality, feature-rich SUVs that resonate with our customers. This is through continuous innovation, customer-centricity, and a strong product portfolio. 

Q

Two-thirds of the company’s sales in the passenger vehicle segment came from SUVs in FY23. Going ahead, how do you see the sales number of SUVs in the domestic market?

Looking ahead, we expect to witness a further uptick in the sales numbers for our SUVs. Tata Motors is well-positioned to capitalize on the growing demand for SUVs and we aim to continue offering exceptional SUVs that exceed customer expectations, further driving sales growth in the coming years.

Q

 How are your SUVs scoring in the hinterland?

In rural areas, where 72 per cent of customers are first time buyers, our sub-compact SUV Punch, and compact SUV Nexon have emerged as one of the most popular models, which is not significantly different from urban markets. The demand for Tata Motors SUVs in the hinterland has been consistently strong and growing. We have witnessed a significant uptake of our SUVs in rural and semi-urban areas, reflecting the increasing preference for our vehicles among customers in these regions. Our extensive network of dealerships and service centers ensures easy accessibility and after-sales support for customers in these regions.

Q

The company has recently introduced its SUV lineup with advanced technologies. How is pricing, affordability being maintained with the new hi-tech features?

We understand that in India, a car represents more than just transportation; it signifies a milestone in the customer’s lifestyle. Through strategic partnerships and scalable platforms, we optimise costs and efficiently integrate new technologies into our SUVs. We try to balance the feature mix and the right variant with pricing. 

Q

As the company is gaining market share, what is Tata Motors doing to differentiate its SUV offerings from the competition and modernize the segment?

We conduct extensive market research and consumer surveys to gain insights into the preferences and expectations of Indian consumers. This helps us understand their specific requirements and incorporate those insights into the design, features, and performance of our SUVs. We recently conducted these clinics in January at the Auto Expo to gather consumer reactions on our future line-up.

We prioritize innovation and technological advancements in our SUVs. We equip our SUVs with advanced safety features, state-of-the-art comfort and convenience features, intuitive infotainment systems, and connectivity options. Further, we prioritise design, and distinctive and modern aesthetics that sets our SUVs apart, we prioritize build quality and incorporate a range of safety features. Our SUVs provide spacious interiors and premium materials.

Q

You are working on automobile consumer insights since 2007, how has the demand of Indian consumers in the automobile segment changed over the years?

India continues to be a price-sensitive market so pricing has always been a critical aspect while buying a car. Affordability and value for money are important considerations. However, there are other factors that today are equally important for consumers like safety, comfort, and ease of driving. Safety being a significant consideration they are looking for advanced features like ADAS, traction control, lane departure warning, rear-view cameras, and stability control. Indian consumers now seek aspirational vehicles that match their personalities and offer advanced features, intuitive technology, exhilarating performance, eco-friendly options, and an enhanced driving experience.

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