Tata Motors to line up products to suit global mkts, eyes South America

Written by Press Trust of India | Johannesburg | Updated: Oct 19 2013, 15:42pm hrs
Karl SlymTata Motors MD Karl Slym says the company has set up a strategy team to look into the international business to make sure products that the firm is developing also become internationally capable.
Adopting a global approach to offset the risk of depending only on its home market, Tata Motors is developing products that would suit global markets as well, as it also explores opportunity to enter the South American continent.

We started the look into international markets a year ago. However, what happened this year in India is just the endorsement of the fact that you cannot be certain with all your eggs in one market because India has collapsed, Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym said.

With elections next year, it delays the action that is of suitable size to make a change for the Indian economy. So that kind of thing endorses the idea of a balanced portfolio in other countries as well, he added.

The Indian car market was on a record nine months decline till July and sales picked up only in August and September. On the new products for future, Slym said: We have our product portfolio confirmed till 2020. Now, when we are designing our portfolio, we are designing them for the global markets.

Elaborating on the global expansion plans, Slym said: We have set up a strategy team to look into the international business. Where should we be, so that the new products that we are developing also become internationally capable, so that opens up new markets for us as well.

Without disclosing details he said the company is testing products in a number of markets all over the world where it believes to have opportunities.

Reflecting the change in approach, he further said: We are not saying okay we have launched it in India we are not going to sell anywhere else, now thats not our approach.

The company had entered Indonesia last week. It has also entered Saudi Arabia apart from expanding business in Malaysia and plans for launches in Australia.

When asked about new markets, Slym said: We are interested in places like South America, we are studying places at the moment to make sure that we find a strong partner to help us enter those markets and not go in alone.

On Thursday, while speaking at the launch of the latest addition to the Tata passenger vehicle range, the Aria, at the 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show, Slym had said that the current range of four passenger vehicles in South Africa would be increased to six in a few months.

We have chosen a few focus markets, of which South Africa is one where we can strategically focus efforts, where we can expand this great export capability... We export to 160 countries, but I do feel that we have not given enough attention to a market such as South Africa, so we want to step up our business in South African terms of Tatas new Horizonext principles, Slym had said.

Last year, Tata Motors sold a total of 6 lakh units out of which 50,000 were in export markets.

When asked about Nano, Slym said the car is in the middle of an image makeover to rectify past mistakes in its positioning. We have made some major changes to the vehicle in terms of interiors, we have done thousands of surveys to make sure to know what people would like to see in a Nano, he said, adding sales have already started picking up.

Our (Nano) sales when it reached the lowest in middle of the year was about 1000, last month they were 3,500 so we are already seeing an uptake because we brought the right things to the market, the managing director said.

When asked if a diesel Nano would hit the market,

he said there is obviously a Nano diesel in the pipeline but did not share timeline for its launch.

He said the Sanand plant in Gujarat is capable of manufacturing more that 3,500 cars a month but that the company is not currently making cars which it cannot sell.

On the new product launches for the domestic market, he said Tata Motors will play in those segments which are growing, such as small car segment which will remain important in India. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are bifurcated into real SUVs or soft roaders. We dont have anything in the soft roader segment which is fast growing. It is important and it is key for us as well, Slym added.