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Old 6th June 2011, 14:50   #1
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Default Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

If one does an honest review of Tata’s passenger car performance in India lately, it does draw a sorrow picture. If it was not for the Nano their sales figure would be several notches lower. Despite the vast leaps made by the company on various issues especially quality, there are still issues pending:
  • Their AfterSS is still not comparable to the likes of Maruti or Hyundai, especially when the likes of Safari and Aria are priced a lot higher than the mainstream models of the other two manufacturers.
  • Brand perception, due to historical issues is still a worry. Customers are circumspect to buy a Tata if not for the price advantage. They need to do something to remove this negative perception around the brand.
  • Getting back the price advantage, this was always Tata’s strength – terrific VFM. Lately though they are going dangerously close to established competitors. It is a tough task with increasing costs and decreasing margins.
  • The underperforming Vista must be Tata’s biggest disappointment. This car should have secured the 10k sales of the traditional Indica in its heyday, but instead it fell behind. The Vista is very well designed and made, no doubts there. But the Indica name and looks did not help the cars cause especially at that price.
  • Weak Marketing, while no one questions the standards of their TV ads, one wonders the timing. People rarely know a model is launched unless you are an auto enthusiast. Once the sales figures start falling that’s when the marketing department decides to play catch up.
  • Their new product gestation period is frustrating. Even marginal changes seem to take so long to be introduced into the market.
Before the Tata fans decide to implant a Stanley into my ribcage please understand this is just my analysis on the issues they are facing.

Tata have announced their upcoming new launches prior to March'12 (repost):
  • NANO variants: Diesel a high possibility, unclear about higher end variants and CVT (pleaasse)
  • VISTA refresh: Facelift?!! differentiate from std. Indica?!
  • MANZA limited edition: unclear what this entails, personally the JLR V6 diesel might be nice, under 8 lacs!!
  • New SAFARI/MERLIN: Plenty of insights and rumors on the respective thread, nonetheless highly anticipated by everyone other than perhaps Tata themselves!!
  • ARIA: 2WD, Lower spec, traditional Tata pricing!!
I believe all the above models other than the limited Manza should give TML a major volume boost. Perhaps the most important will be the Vista and Aria variants especially after the investment on new platforms, they are yet to realize full potential. If Tata handles the Nano diesel variant well, their volumes should easily help Nano clock 15k units monthly!! Now with the assembly operation in place one can hope for more locally assembled Jag and LR models at competitive prices.
But then the question is will these models get the volumes they deserve if the initial issues raised are not resolved. Wait and watch I guess. Best of luck Tata.

Last edited by shortbread : 6th June 2011 at 14:53.
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Old 6th June 2011, 14:59   #2
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Default re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

While cheap price is a good point , Tomtoming cheap price is not.
A customer needs a vehicle cheap but does not want company to advertise it as cheap.

A case in point is eeco and various such offerings from Maruti they never shouted ex-showroom before tax price and used word cheap in press.

Cheapness of one product spread across to whole range and somehow people in this country do not still see commuter car as utility item like a refrigerator or washing machine and want some prestige with brand.
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Old 6th June 2011, 15:00   #3
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Default re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

Im no Tata fan, but your view is skewed. Tata has surpassed Hyundai in terms of sales to get the number two position in recent times, and in all honesty, it is the only INDIAN car manufacturer that shows future potential. The changes they have made in terms of quality, fit and finish, customer satisfaction and perception in general is very commendable. They are making a genuine effort and you can see it in the products. Yes, they might still not be upto mark to say a MAruti, but then they are cheaper innit?
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Old 6th June 2011, 15:47   #4
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Default re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyrus43 View Post
Tata has surpassed Hyundai in terms of sales to get the number two position in recent times, and in all honesty, it is the only INDIAN car manufacturer that shows future potential.
True, Only Indian manufacturer who has got potential.

But I too see a lot of negatives or probably am expecting a lot from TATA:

The Vista-Indica platform is now 13 years old? They need a new platform for their small car models. A new revolutionary suspension setup probably to match the competition, new line of engines (Read Greener engines, not frugal), and a new steering design.

They take a very long time from concept-market. (Cause, they tend to go for numbers and capacity even from the initial planning phase- No room for error in such conditions)

They could still do a Mini-cooper for India which is an unexplored segment yet. [Alto rules the roost here]

Othen than Nano, they have stiff competition in all other segments that they compete in. [I would suggest, create a new segment]

I Beg- Bring in the Pixel, Turn the world around. Why not be the first on Moon? Why trace somebody else's footsteps?
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Old 6th June 2011, 15:58   #5
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Default re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

I have an Indica which is only meant for the driver to drive. For the self driven car it is a strict no-no. It is spacious and the a/c cools pretty well but the steering position is like driving a lorry and the pedal positions cause your leg to ache. For a car made for India and for Indian conditions, there is no bottle holder. How do they expect to sell such a car other than for the taxi segment?
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Old 6th June 2011, 17:05   #6
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Default re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

In small car segment they really have very less models. Mainly Indica only though they have different versions in that like Old Indica with petrol & diesel + Vista with petrol & diesel. They need 1-2 more small cars in there portfolio. Nano is in all together different segment. One good model in small car segment can change the image for Tata along with efforts on improving the A.S.S. They can do that with the help of Fiat. God knows when they will do that.
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Old 6th June 2011, 18:29   #7
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Default re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shortbread View Post
  • NANO variants: Diesel a high possibility, unclear about higher end variants and CVT (pleaasse)
  • VISTA refresh: Facelift?!! differentiate from std. Indica?!
  • MANZA limited edition: unclear what this entails, personally the JLR V6 diesel might be nice, under 8 lacs!!
  • New SAFARI/MERLIN: Plenty of insights and rumors on the respective thread, nonetheless highly anticipated by everyone other than perhaps Tata themselves!!
  • ARIA: 2WD, Lower spec, traditional Tata pricing!!
1) Nano.
Get the marketing done better. Rather than an upgrade from 2 wheeler, target it slightly higher. Showing the biker getting drenched by another car and then nano is answer is not going to help them.

2) Vista. Just move that console to the place where its supposed to be. How about sharing it with Manza. Manza instrument panel at the correct place would give Vista a better image. This IMO will help a bit.

3) Safari. A new Safari is a must. But not with the ridiculous pricing like they did with Aria.

4) Disaster of a pricing strategy

Tata needs to focus on Service first to improve image. Tata has/can have access to quite a bit of units from Fiat. They should capitalize on that.
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Old 6th June 2011, 18:37   #8
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Default re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

  1. Tata made a big blunder in pricing Aria and it is a Flop now encouraging only competitors product to sell more.
  2. Sumo Grande MKII is again a Flop mainly due to very poor dated bad quality interior for 8.40L for GX variant.
  3. Ford Figo has eaten up Vista on the same USP of SPACE and PRICE.
  4. April 2011 Price increase has made TATA cars to become expensive and no VFM at all. For example 14 year old Safari LX variant price has increased from 7.75 L to 8.20L which is over 6% hike.
  5. TATA's bad QC and fit and finish, niggles cannot continue perpetually while they lose ground on VFM car maker.
  6. Now at same TATA range of prices, many alternate products from other makers with less niggles and better QC are available for Indian car buyers. Example Ford Figo against Vista QJD Aura plus on hatch, Competing against Manza sedan many alternative diesel sedans like VW Vento, M&M Verito, Dezire,Hyundai New Verna, Ford Fiesta etc.
  7. Tata MUST efficiently Fix its QC, fit and finish, niggling issues, control cost, In the coming months under TATA brand Tata motors can sell more cars to Indians ONLY under VFM better built niggle free cars. Wake Up TATA Wake UP.
  8. Nano has become a bad lesson for TATA delayed execution of its micro car concept coupled with Singur plant shifting, fire incidents, dampened accepteance from customer due to less features, engine etc.
  9. TATA must Develop and offer A/T across its passenger car models at 50-75K additional/optional price.

Last edited by harimakesh : 6th June 2011 at 18:41.
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Old 6th June 2011, 19:22   #9
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Default re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

All tata cars ae now wrongly priced, barring the nano to a certain extent. The price has shot up by an average of 70,000 over the last year and discounts now given are thin. Dealer margin too is about average and this reflects in sales figures too. Will you buy a vista safire 90 aura plus at 6.5 lakh OTR delhi?
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Old 7th June 2011, 15:21   #10
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Default Re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

When Tata got in to Passenger cars, they did so by launching the Sierra and the Estate. Yes, the quality of these cars was Bad, but they had targetted new segments, which did not exist! So play to your strength!! Launch a direct INNOVA rival. Xylo has not been able to pull numbers from the innova in spite of the cheaper price! May be a cheaper Aria Variant will do the trick! Secondly, the vista, is now a goner! There are far too many hatches now and all are being offered in diesel, which was the earlier Indica's USP and now its not! So I figure Tata can never survive the onslaught from its japanese / korean rivals, unless they have a brand new product. Instead, I suggest that they work on the Manza. Change the rear for gods sake and see it compete with the Etios / Dzire. And develop a NEW MUV. The sumo grande has been a massive failure and even Cabs have now resorted to Innovas.
Lastly, please scrap all the old models! Why do you have the old indica selling even now? If you advertise that as a "FE" champion etc, you are indirectly pulling numbers from the vista and creating a bad image for the company! Stop selling the old indica, the old sumo, the old indigo grand / CS and instead promote the current models. If it means losing out on the current taxi business, so be it, but it will prove beneficial in the long run.
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Old 7th June 2011, 15:52   #11
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Default Re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

Tata has made a lot of blunders alright, but they've also transformed themselves into an extremely capable manufacturer of modern cars. Compare that to Mahindra who simply cannot hold a candle to Tata on R&D capability (primarily UVs, most of them jugaad).

Pat on the back to Tata for: getting the products spot-on. The Manza is one heck of a C segment sedan, as are the Nano & Vista for their respective segments. They've taken a giant leap forward in capability with the Aria. Except for the price, the Aria is the perfect MUV for India.

Brickbats to Tata for: Getting over-optimistic with the pricing! I mean, seriously, the top-end Aria costs 19 lakhs on the road in Mumbai. I predicted that few people will find value in the Aria, and have been proven right. Tata also lacks the marketing & strategic brilliance needed to make the Nano a 30,000 / month seller. I can bet you that, if the Nano were a Maruti product, it would be India's best selling car today. Look how Tata completely botched up the Vista's positioning too Link to thread (That's an Indica. Nope, Vista...Nah Indica!! SIGHHHH!)). Lastly, and I was just talking to my brother about it this morning, it's about time Tata realises that niggle-free cars are not a luxury anymore. They are an absolute requirement today.

I'm honestly surprised though that Tata practically handed over the Indian UV market to Mahindra! Would have expected Tata to do better than completely ignore it for the past 15 years. Mahindra continues to go from strength to strength in the Indian UV space.

Either ways, it's early days today as Tata launched their first monocoque passenger vehicle a mere 14 years back. They are still climbing up the learning curve in many areas. Couple of decades from now, and I will equate Tata Motors with greatness. Much more so than Mahindra, who I'm equally patriotic about, but place a distinct no.2 behind Tata as an organisation.

Last edited by GTO : 7th June 2011 at 15:56.
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Old 7th June 2011, 16:04   #12
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Unhappy Re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

I dont have anything against Tata, I do admire them as they are the inching slowly but surely towards the top spot. What I feel is a big let down is that inspite of having the best R&D in the industry they still produce some cheap looking cars. Take the case of Indica, over the years the model has got so many facelifts that people no longer want to accept that its got something new.If only Tata had introduced a new hatchback itself, customers would have been interested.

Everytime I visit their showrooms, I still get the feeling that a lot needs to be improved, looking at their customer service, after sales, workshop etc. This slowly is translating in low volumes.
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Old 7th June 2011, 16:19   #13
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Default Re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

I believe TATA motors being the organization that it is must already have a lot of capable heads working on the topic of the thread since quite a while.
Evidently getting out of a rut is not as easy as it seems from the outside, else would they make what seems like obvious errors in market positioning. There is obviously a reason to what seems like a madness.

I believe the Vista, Manza, Nano and Aria are well engineered for the price points that they represent. Yep the Aria is slightly over priced or rather they could have given a bit more that what is on display for the same price. The Manza on the other hand is a perfect vehicle and is well priced as well. The Nano V2 with improvement and also the Nano Diesel should get the numbers even further northward for this capable vehicle. Vista desperately required a refresh, though it is a totally new platform somehow it still is presumed to be just a refreshed look of the earlier car.

Also they need to be niggle free from the start and that too across the board in all their cars.

Their Advts are indeed very nice, but as mentioned in one of the earlier posts on the thread very badly timed.

TATA has a lot going for it, and I for one do have absolute confidence that we will see wonders from this unit, they have the potential to grow exponentially and they new launches from them should take care of it.

Also what about an extended wheel base 7 seater version Manza Estate / MUV?
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Old 7th June 2011, 16:35   #14
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Default Re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

Kudos to Tata for achieving so much in such a short period of time. They have taken great leap from a CV manufacturer to no 2 car manufacturer in India. The products too have improved over the years. The main issue always has been selling niggle free cars and chalta hai attitude of the company in terms of customer service, work shop quality etc

What Tata needs to understand that competition is extremely tough now and the first thing an Indian consumer wants is a product which should perform exactly what it is meant to which is give years of trouble free service. Just putting in a lot of features has no meaning if the customer has to keep running to the service station for warranty repairs. The cost of such warranty repairs too are high for the company as well as the dealers who have to spend man hours for a job which gives them no remuneration.

My first car was a Tata Indica and I was very happy with it for the price vs what it offered. However the warranty repairs (nothing major but far too many irritants) kept me from continuing with the brand.

Hope to see Tata perform much better than they do now. Please pay attention to QC and a lot of problems will be taken care automatically
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Old 7th June 2011, 16:49   #15
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Default Re: Tata's lean run in passenger car sales!!

While I agree with most points discussed here, I have my own 2 cents, being a Tata Vista owner myself.

First and foremost point:
I vote for niggles rather design flaws. Niggles can be rectified very easily. Design flaws are irritating and forever. Just count the number of search results with rattling issues of i20. Just because its Hyundai and i20 is a so called premium hatchback, you cant excuse them to make a rattled car from day one. My Vista has no rattles till date in its 18K KMs run and I got it for just 4 lacs on road Pune. My friend bought a brand new Swift diesel 2 months back and the defogger on his Swift went kaput. So much for Maruti reliability.

I dont mean any offense to anyone, but there is no perfect car in the world. Every product has some issues. The main point is how the company handles these issues. AFAIK, most Tata and Maruti owners have been very satisfied with the way the companies accepted the fault and rectified it without much chaos. Hyundai is still finding a solution to steering rattle (Hyundai claimed that 2011 i10s and i20s do not have the issue anymore, but I am not sure).

Where I agree with everyone is on the customer interface side. Tata needs to improve a million times to get to the best level. Extremely poor customer relationship management. You get a feeling that most of the employees at the service center or showrooms are working there because they could not get a job anywhere else. The service advisors are supposed to be technically good, if not amazing. But most SAs at Tata service centers know only what is written in manual. For instance, I told my SA to bleed the brakes. His expression was like he had seen an alien. My recent experience at a VW showroom has set a benchmark for EXCELLENT customer service. Even the Maruti showrooms can not come any close to such experience.

Tata Aria is one heck of a mistake by Tata Motors. Aria should have been priced just a notch above the Innova to make any competition felt to Toyota.

The initial sales of Nano did spell doom, but it has picked up like a phoenix now. Around 6-8k per month is a great number. I agree with better marketing and advertising, it can easily get to 5 digit numbers, but still we can call it a succes.

As a Vista owner, I am disappointed that Tata hiked its prices and hiked them so much that other cars started looking cheaper compared to the Vista. Figo won the battle right there.
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