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Old 2nd November 2011, 19:45   #106
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Originally Posted by romeomidhun View Post
A VFM product will sell. OK. But DZire interiors are spartan? IMO, it's the best among its competition like Accent, Fiesta Classic, Verito, Sunny and Indigo. Otherwise, you would be the follower of 'only white is beautiful' thought.
Why stick to sedans only. I think plethora of hatches have better interior design & quality. I10, beat, ritz, I20, Polo, Fabia, Jazz, Astar. Compare dzire with these.

But I do get what you are saying. Entry level sedans come with built to cost interiors. And you missed the Etios. The Fiesta had for sure better interiors. Dont know about the classic though.
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Old 2nd November 2011, 20:09   #107
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

I think that the duds are mainly due to
1. Priced above the expectation of the buyer
2. The quality not matching similarly priced products from competition

There is another thread which discusses amongst other issues, the cost of design and launching of a new vehicle. Market survey plays an important parts and so does costing. In all the failed products we can see that neither of these were adhered to, hence the buyer exercise their choice of not buying.

Why at all go through the exercise if it fails? Well as discussed
. Automotive industry lacks brilliant and dedicated people. The few who are there are crippled by the management policies and sooner than later leave for greener pastures.
. The management is heavily influenced by persons with finance background. When you are not brilliant or cannot see into the possibilities, you tend to be conservative. If you go wrong doing what has been done,it is bad luck, but if go wrong with a new idea, you are reckless!
. Few in Management are really in tune with the end users. They may have a perception of what the buyer needs, but forget to gauge how much one will pay for it. Many are smitten by their own brilliance and refuse to heed a word of caution.
. Foreign companies invariably delude them selves with the "superiority of their product", and try to maximise their revenue. They err because they did not evaluate their competition.
. At times a truly excellent product is produced, but some where down the line the expenses went up, and the product out priced it self (a case of bad cost engineering at the initial stage).
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Old 2nd November 2011, 20:20   #108
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Originally Posted by oxyzen View Post
Why stick to sedans only. I think plethora of hatches have better interior design & quality. I10, beat, ritz, I20, Polo, Fabia, Jazz, Astar. Compare dzire with these.
But there is a huge difference between a costly hatch and a cheap sedan.

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Originally Posted by oxyzen View Post
But I do get what you are saying. Entry level sedans come with built to cost interiors. And you missed the Etios.
Oh, that was a huge miss!

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Old 2nd November 2011, 23:42   #109
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

Great thread GTO,

We do wonder from time on products like these as if the company put any thought process to the pricing or not.

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Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
I think you're half wrong here.

In any company, there are those who love the business and do their job with passion. Maybe the automotive sector has far more of such individuals - and which itself is understandable.

BUT - the general pay scales of the automotive sector are quite behind the rest of the market, so what you've said in bold really does not apply.

I personally know 10+ friends from the auto sector who left that sector simply because of the money - whether at the starting level, mid level, or at the director level. Of course, the examples are limited to GM, Ford, Fiat's vendors and Maruti.
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I was being overly positive in my views lacking a 1st hand experience, and going by a lot of the hype here on TBHP (petrol head CEOs blah blah) - glad to know my cynical belief is right - so much for hiring the "smartest out there"

I have a friend who was in BMW , but who left because marketing real estate just makes that much more money - even within a corporate strait jacket.

So then, its like any industry - people work for a paycheck (not the very best that they can do), internal politics is always there. Then occasional duds will be there, no?
I am not sure what you are trying to prove here, GTO mentioned that companies Usually hire the best out there whether they remain in the company or stick to it is a separate issue. I personally know an IITB friend of mine who is with Maruti for the last 8-9 years & I am sure there are more like him.

Also there are lot of petrol heads who are at important positions in an Automobile company, I have personally visited Bajaj factory & have met with folks like these, we Have BD here as an example & I am sure there are more out there in all companies. So lets not assume that CEO or other important folks are never Petrol Heads.

This is more like a case study for us non MBA types to ponder why Duds like these happen & we have got some interesting views so far.
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Old 3rd November 2011, 00:33   #110
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Previous generation Vitara? Flop. Current gen Grand Vitara? Flop.
I still feel that the Vitara will sell a lot more units if it came via the CKD route with a decent diesel engine and a competitive price tag of around 15 lakhs. Only its interiors need some sprucing up & somehow Suzuki needs to get the 1.9 multijet into the car !
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Old 3rd November 2011, 07:22   #111
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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I am not sure what you are trying to prove here, GTO mentioned that companies Usually hire the best out there whether they remain in the company or stick to it is a separate issue. I personally know an IITB friend of mine who is with Maruti for the last 8-9 years & I am sure there are more like him.
My point is simple - the auto sector salaries are such that the medium/long term retention of the bright employees doesn't really happen nor can they attract the very best talent (UNLESS the guy's a petrolhead).

Like I said - I have 10 odd examples. I've now added behemoth saab and two of my ex-colleagues into the list.

That's what oxyzen said as well. Now I'd much rather leave this kinda point to be reflected upon by someone like behemoth whose been there, and is now doing other things.

Therefore the blanket statement that "hire the smartest out there" is just not true. Ask anyone you know whose in engineering or industrial design. Is it like computers (say ten years back) when the best guy of any branch wanted an IT/coding job. no!!
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Old 3rd November 2011, 09:01   #112
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
My point is simple - the auto sector salaries are such that the medium/long term retention of the bright employees doesn't really happen nor can they attract the very best talent (UNLESS the guy's a petrolhead).

Like I said - I have 10 odd examples. I've now added behemoth saab and two of my ex-colleagues into the list.

That's what oxyzen said as well. Now I'd much rather leave this kinda point to be reflected upon by someone like behemoth whose been there, and is now doing other things.

Therefore the blanket statement that "hire the smartest out there" is just not true. Ask anyone you know whose in engineering or industrial design. Is it like computers (say ten years back) when the best guy of any branch wanted an IT/coding job. no!!
Thanks Phamilyman, I do agree wholeheartedly to this!
When young engineers passed out of colleges 14 years back (my time!), their aspirations where usually strong for the auto industry and there was a time when even in terms of salary and exposure these employers were considered very prestigious. Once in the companies, these young aspirants realize that their career growth path in the organization depends on the number of years with the organization and they cannot opt for an accelerated career. Many of the aspirants then start preparing for Masters / international studies and then eventually leave. The companies lose their human capital which they had tried very hard to develop. Surprisingly, the companies are aware of this , and are happy to retain even just 20% of their young talent after 4 years.
Some of the young aspirants do also rejoin the same organizations as lateral hires at senior levels eventually.
The challenge which the large organization face is that they are not able to encourage and leverage the talents which these young people had brought, as they value years of experience more than innovative ideas. With more Korean / Japanese / German players coming in the fray, the scope for innovation is smothered, as these companies do not empower young teams for innovation and rely more on experienced people.
One of the exceptions to this is the Mahindra XUV design team, which consisted of younger people, led by an expat young lady - this is why the XUV design has come out so radical and pathbreaking. On the other side, if you see Tata Aria (production version), the design was an extended / inflated version of the Indica Vista and did not generate any Wow factor.
The flipside of young vs old design teams is that with a young team, the pitfalls are higher and the customer may end up becoming a guinea pig for product improvements, whereas this is less likely in case of a product designed by an experienced team.

The other side of the story is the marketing angle. Most companies are now "Marketing what they produce" and not "Producing what they can market"!

Regards,
Behemoth

Last edited by Behemoth : 3rd November 2011 at 09:03.
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Old 3rd November 2011, 09:25   #113
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Lightbulb Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Originally Posted by Technocrat View Post
I personally know an IITB friend of mine who is with Maruti for the last 8-9 years & I am sure there are more like him.
Interesting, UG or PG?

Quote:
Also there are lot of petrol heads who are at important positions in an Automobile company, I have personally visited Bajaj factory & have met with folks like these, we Have BD here as an example & I am sure there are more out there in all companies. So lets not assume that CEO or other important folks are never Petrol Heads.
There is no doubt that BD is auto passionate, in fact I feel Petrol head is an understatement in his case.

See his posts below, he is is implicitly hinting something in some of his posts, you are smart enough to make that out, read carefully the bold part. It will not be right from my side to comment more and I doubt he will comment (considering his position now).
Quote:
I now reflect back and have no hesitancy in stating that after all the trials and tribulations, the whole thing (executing the Thar project) was worth it.
Quote:
Please try the BD30 also, you will be blown away! It was in consideration for a lot of applications but then -----.

Quote:
There is so much that can be done, not only cosmetically but also mechanically. I am going to the extent of mentioning here that - The real Thar CRDe has not even hit the Indian roads yet!

Think!

Quote:
To this extent, I don't like the instrument panel of the Thar CRDe but production constraints dictated otherwise. I had made a very SIMPLE instrument panel for my Thar but never got round to fitting it for "various reasons".
Quote:
The "real" Thar CRDe is in my head. If somebody is dead serious, it can be done. All aggregates are already existing in other M&M vehicles which are running on the road, so all the engineering reliability is proved and readily available.

Dear Ricky- product development is a continuous process. Thar with mHawk should be very interesting if M&M does it. I really don't know. I wish them all the very best.
If you still have doubts on my statement, you can cross check with your (cousin/brother) who is employed at Nasik, he will tell you things in more detail. :-) (You must be wondering how I know this-- that is Spike Arrestor for you)


Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
My point is simple - the auto sector salaries are such that the medium/long term retention of the bright employees doesn't really happen nor can they attract the very best talent (UNLESS the guy's a petrolhead).
352 joined with me as a trainee in 2007, most of them are auto passionate (freshers from college), hardly a few remain now, I do not find this surprising.

Quote:
That's what oxyzen said as well. Now I'd much rather leave this kinda point to be reflected upon by someone like behemoth whose been there, and is now doing other things.

Therefore the blanket statement that "hire the smartest out there" is just not true. Ask anyone you know whose in engineering or industrial design.
I was there and I know I will be around this field, I left as I needed freedom for my thoughts and did not want to become a minion. I did not want someone (having zilch idea about Automobile Development) discard my opinions just because his boss would not approve it ! No point breaking my head, so moved on...

Spike

Last edited by SPIKE ARRESTOR : 3rd November 2011 at 09:36.
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Old 3rd November 2011, 09:29   #114
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Not everything is designed to sell in large numbers and help to make money. Some products are designed to change the brand image or provide well-roundedness to the portfolio.
Extremely valid point. Some manufacturers aren't looking at high volumes (relative to the segment) simply because:

- The car is intended to be a halo product

- They don't have the production capacity

- They don't have the distribution or after-sales to back the higher volumes

- They'd rather sell 1000 units at 40% margin than 1400 units at 20% margin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by romeomidhun View Post
A VFM product will sell. OK. But DZire interiors are spartan? IMO, it's the best among its competition like Accent, Fiesta Classic, Verito, Sunny and Indigo. Otherwise, you would be the follower of 'only white is beautiful' thought.
I think the Dzire has decent interiors for the price it sells at. However, overall, I think it's an extremely average product and there are better at the price. But they don't have Maruti's brand, trust, after-sales or even engines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
BUT - the general pay scales of the automotive sector are quite behind the rest of the market, so what you've said in bold really does not apply.
Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Therefore the blanket statement that "hire the smartest out there" is just not true.
I suggest you consider the exact situation we are talking about here : OVERPRICED products. And I can assure you (as you would perhaps already know) that the newbie & mid-level management have absolutely zilch to do with the pricing of the product. Heck, the middle-management don't even know about the pricing until the product is launched.

Who decides on the pricing? Who has the power to influence the pricing strategy? Who takes the call? It's the top management. That's why my opening post which amply clarifies this:

Quote:
There is no denying the talent either; large auto manufacturers have some truly bright brains at the top, and usually hire the smartest out there. Plus, their research, marketing & advertising budgets run into several crores of rupees.
When we are talking about pricing strategies, the fresher IIM grad with his minimal experience & understanding does NOT even come into the picture. Do you think hiring amongst corporates only happens at campuses for freshers?

Smartest? Indeed. Look up the profiles of the management at Maruti, Tata, Hyundai, Toyota etc. and you'll agree that they are indeed the "smartest out there". Therefore, I'd appreciate some more inputs on how these smart folk missed out on what is obvious to laymen like us.

Last edited by GTO : 3rd November 2011 at 09:30.
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Old 3rd November 2011, 10:35   #115
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Smartest? Indeed. Look up the profiles of the management at Maruti, Tata, Hyundai, Toyota etc. and you'll agree that they are indeed the "smartest out there". Therefore, I'd appreciate some more inputs on how these smart folk missed out on what is obvious to laymen like us.
My tuppence worth :

#1. Some things that are "obvious to laymen like us", might not be that obvious in numbers - on a plot on a ppt! At the end of the day, it's *that* ppt that makes the world go around!

#2. Some brands 'obviously' overestimate their value - but shockingly, they are proven right when a whole lot of people are willing to pay 10+l for certain 6l products. Something wrong there!

#3. Could it be that production constraints play a bigger (than I think) role, & companies actually are trying to price to 'level' demand for certain products?

#4. I'm not so sure of petrolheads being in command at auto-coms. It makes more sense for a company (whether it SELLS edible oil or motor-cars) to be run by accountants, marketeers & other smart number-crunchers.

Good one, GTO! As lost as you are on the duds. Totally with you on your original list, except for:

#1. Kizashi - always thought this was a strategic posturing / halo product, giving out a clear message that they are open to starting a price-war (etc) in upper segments of the market (which form the staple for some brands that are eyeing a chunk of the lower segments) - if it comes to that.

#2. Fluence - again IMO, an image builder/enhancer that clearly tells India - 'Not a taxi-maker'! How they play with models that follow the Fluence will be their trump.
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Old 3rd November 2011, 11:00   #116
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

Hi GTO and everybody! Nice thread and a good discussion!

I recently (July 2011) purchased an i20 Asta CRDi for Rs. 800000+.
As most of you are aware this car is fully loaded and has already been tried and tested as far as sales are concerned. (My building has 6 cars incl. mine)
So obviously there is a comfort factor that I had while deciding for this car.
I had an option of going in for the Ford Fiesta Classic which was then for Rs. 7.9 Lakhs.

I realized that for the same price the i20 was offering a huge load of features. Not that the Fiesta is a bad car- it’s a great make but then we never travelled long enough to be able to do only with the boot-size of a Sedan. The only difference was the Boot Size of course, Sedan v/s Hatchback. Yes, I have had many people reminding me about the 8lakhs I spent for a Hatchback but then I did it after researching for long..!!

As somebody quoted before, the Punto was available for a lesser price
but then I couldn't trust the After Sales of Fiat at all. Moreover, its a company that doesn't even have its own marketing/Sales. TATA does it for them. How lame?!

I live in Pune. The Detroit of India. This city revolves around the auto-industry and everything is related to it..!

Auto-Industry Dead- Pune Dead.

Moreover being an Auditor I usually travel around Bhosari, MIDC to audit clients who are all ancilliary units who manufacture parts to the Auto industry here. I know (and have seen) how the Castings/precision parts have been made. I know how the pricing is controlled by TATA/Mahindra/Volkswagen. There are manufacturers doing crores worth of turnover but working on a margin of hardly 75paise, Re.1 or Rs.2 on certain parts..!! All this just for the fear of losing Business..

I have seen how these cars have been stocked like poultry across barren vacant lands. All kinds of cost cutting is done wherever possible.

As far as a career is concerned, the Industry does NOT pay well. For an aspiring fresher Chartered Accountant, where the consultancy firms pay Rs. 6.5 lakhs onwards per annum the auto industry offers around 4+. Now this is considering a CA. For Engineers the scene is not that Rosy. Now a days its too difficult to get into TATA Motors on their payroll.

The Smarties are there. There is no doubt about that. And it makes a difference. Look at what it did to YAMAHA India! During the tenure of the old CEO Yamaha came out with stupid bikes. The only exception being the RD 350 and RX100 which they discontinued..!! From a market share which was at 25% at a time which came down to around 3%. And look how the New CEO turned it around!

Overpricing is just not understandable in a country like India where the market to buy high end cars is not as lucrative as the mid-segments.
One reason why companies may do this is to recover their Behemoth Investments in R&D and Manufacturing. The lame reason that Honda gave for such huge discounts for the Jazz is that they have been able to cut costs!! Cut Costs??? to the extent of 1.5 lakh per car??!! Who is that master negotiator?? Who buys the Lancer Cedia, Kizhashi, Grand Vitara. The Fluence is also soon going into the grave it dug for itself!

Last edited by arrowaby : 3rd November 2011 at 11:08. Reason: addition
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Old 3rd November 2011, 11:13   #117
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Smartest? Indeed. Look up the profiles of the management at Maruti, Tata, Hyundai, Toyota etc. and you'll agree that they are indeed the "smartest out there". Therefore, I'd appreciate some more inputs on how these smart folk missed out on what is obvious to laymen like us.
While we are aware of the constant pressure from consumers/competitors to make cars cheaper, we are probably not aware of the pressure from the board/stock-holders (who control the paycheck of these folks and hence have more control over these folks).

Board/stock-holders need more profit than revenue. I am sure the incentives, bonus are setup that way too. So the obvious thing is that the "smart folks" fall in for the greed and take a lot of risk and price it really high. Its more greed that factors into this than intelligence, atleast IMHO.

And does not this happen across industries and across intelligence levels?
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Old 3rd November 2011, 11:33   #118
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
how these smart folk missed out on what is obvious to laymen like us.
I am not in the field of management / marketing but trying to put some layman thoughts.

There are counter cases:
1.)"Optimistically" priced but still relatively successful products. I can put I20, 2nd generation Honda City (NHC),Yamaha FZ, May be Bolero
in this category.

Again This can be subjective and everybody may not agree with me about these products being overpriced but I think most will agree that these are not absolute VFM products but still successful due to other good aspects.

So the LOGIC behind these irrational pricing may be to ape the success of such products.

2.) Sensibly priced products legging behind their competition. (e.g. Manza v/s DZire , Spark v/s. Alto, may be Figo)
Biggest fear in pricing a product in right (lower) side is What if reduction is not reflected in sales?

Sometimes(?) marketing / strategy people are more concerned about what they want to sell instead of what buyer wants to buy.
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Old 3rd November 2011, 11:34   #119
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

Last night i saw a rerun of Top Gear where Jeremy was showcasing the virtues of the Skoda Yeti when it was launched. You know what the theme summarized (though cheekily):
1. Yeti was cheaper in europe than some Vauxhall Astra at some 22k pounds.
2. It was faster than a ferrari across some track (that was dug up for repairs so slight off roading) - which was the cheekiest part.
3. It was more practical than a Maybach with all the room you could create by doing tricks with its seats.
4. Its interiors were robust enough for 4 firemen to pass through with their equipment to the other side and still survive.
5. It was built well enough to land a 600lbs helicopter on a 100lb make shift helipad tied to the yeti's roof. Which they actually did and was absolutely crazy by me!!

And yet, it does the numbers it does in India!!!

Great thread GTO. Just goes to prove that not everyone wants the same virtues in their cars. There are specific reasons that drive car sales in geographies. Just cause LRs are probably the greatest offroaders, they won't ever outsell the Mahindra in India no matter how much you advertise!!

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Old 3rd November 2011, 11:48   #120
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Default Re: Big Money + Big Talent = The overpriced market dud. How?

^^
Yes, and another surprising aspect is that the Yeti is extremely successful in Europe and has a waiting period in the range of 4-6 months (whereas other cars are available off the shelf!). The European market has matured quite a lot in terms of cars with much lower emissions (lower emission cars are taxed much less) and also in terms of preferring more compact cars with good efficiency compared to the large butch gas guzzling SUVs which US preferred.
In India, it seems to be a product launched much before its time - (probably 3 years early). It would become a much more viable option if fuel costs exceed 100Rs/ L (Petrol) and Diesel (60 Rs/L) and parking space also reaches very high levels of 10,000 per sq ft (in Gurgaon!).
Smaller, versatile and fuel efficient cars are the way ahead in the future, it is the Indian customers position in the curve which will drive their adoption. Also, when the Yeti entered this segment, there were no comparable cars and it was at an odd position. Eventually, the Duster and the Ecosport would also come into India, but may be at different price points. Freedom of choice will also make the manufacturers price their products more aggressively and ultimately the customer will be the winner! The XUV has also made it extremely tough for the Yeti / Duster and the Ecosport and people now expect much more at a lower price.


Regards,
Behemoth

Last edited by Technocrat : 3rd November 2011 at 19:02. Reason: Please avoid quoting an entire long post specially if its on same page, thanks
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