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Tata's makeover drive with Bolt, Zest set to debut

Murali Gopalan | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on May 01, 2014

Unveiling Tata Motor’s latest offerings – the Zest (red) and Bolt (blue). KAMAL NARANG

Tata Motors is pulling out all stops for the Bolt and the Zest

For the last six months, Ankush Arora confesses he has been on ‘super drive’ ever since his company embarked on an ambitious retail revamp drive.

With the launch of the Bolt hatchback and Zest sedan less than a couple of months away, the Senior Vice-President (Commercial) of Tata Motors’ Passenger Vehicle Business Unit has more than his hands full.

“The launch of these cars is important since it marks a dramatic perception change of Tata Motors. We have kicked off a massive network revamp both in terms of quality and quantity. The idea is to create an efficient network and I do believe we are more or less there,” an excited Arora says.

Revamp mode

The exercise involves a complete redoing of the exteriors and interiors of showrooms with nearly 120 of them across the country “undergoing renovation at this point”. These will be done by the first half of this month with another 120 scheduled to be ready by end-July.

It required a visit to one of these showrooms to convince Arora that his company was indeed on the right track. For 25 years, this particular outlet was at one location and moved to a “better place” as part of the revamp initiative. The younger son of the owner, by his own admission, had never ever sat in the showroom all these years simply because he did not think too much of the Tata Motors brand.

“After the revamp, he confessed that he was extremely proud of the new place since it looked better than a top European luxury brand’s outlet on the same street. He was also doubly pleased that the quality of his buyers had changed dramatically,” Arora recalls.

The coming months will see a complete new identity for Tata Motors rolled out in collaboration with international design consultant, Fitch. This represents a total makeover to give a “phenomenally new customer experience” as the company prepares for the Bolt and Zest.

The cars were on display at the Delhi Auto Expo in February and the overwhelming response from visitors was only a reminder that the retail experience would have to be equally memorable.

And while the revamp is an important part of the effort, Tata Motors is collaborating with its dealers on a “massive hiring” drive where the sales force will increase by nearly 3,000 people.

New guidelines are also in place for the kind of manpower the company is looking for and from where it intends recruiting them. They will be subject to a series of intensive tests and will get a different compensation/incentive structure.

Change of strategy

Not unaware of the fact that it has largely been retailing taxis, Tata Motors is pulling out all stops to create a different mindset within its ecosystem for the personal buyer. The road ahead will involve intensive training of these new recruits who will use new technology for the selling efforts.

On the service side too, the idea is to make things a lot faster and less complicated for the customer. The traditional practice was an elaborate exercise which involved the service advisor taking a detailed look at the car, returning to his desk and then taking a printout. This took nearly 40 minutes and this has halved today thanks to a far more streamlined procedure where things are done quickly and efficiently.

At the back end, the company has been working with Boston Consulting Group “in a big way” to get ready for taking the new products to the market. Its design studios in the UK, Italy and Pune have also been working collaboratively to up the ante on design.

The launch of the Bolt and Zest also signals an image makeover from an essentially diesel engine manufacturer to one who is ready with a competitive petrol option.

With the market now moving away from diesel cars, Arora believes that sales of the Bolt and Zest will also reflect this behavioural pattern with over 50 per cent buyers likely to opt for petrol. And this is where he is betting big on the new Revotron engine to draw buyers.

Likewise, the overwhelming response to Maruti Suzuki’s Celerio AMT (automated manual transmission) version is music to Tata Motors’ ears as the Zest also has one to offer.

It will also be for the first time that AMT will accompany a diesel model and Arora is confident that a potential winner could be on the cards with the Zest. The Bolt does not have an AMT version, at least for now, and getting one ready should not be too much of an effort.

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Published on May 01, 2014
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