We want to be fuel-agnostic in the long run

Written by Rachit Vats | Updated: Jul 2 2014, 04:59am hrs
After growing in the passenger car segment, mostly on the back of its diesel-powered engines from the Indica to the Safari Tata Motors is pinning its hopes on a new breed of petrol engines that it has developed to spur future growth. Ranjit Yadav, president of the passenger vehicles business at Tata Motors, says his company is gradually moving towards being a fuel-agnostic carmaker, with market share equally balanced between petrol and diesel offerings (petrol cars currently make up only 5% of its sales volumes). He tells Rachit Vats the company will launch its new sedan, Zest, first and ensure it is a success before it launches the new hatchback, Bolt. Excerpts:

A lot of your focus is on launching the Zest and the Bolt. How prepared are you to hit the market with these

We are in the launch phase for the Zest and the Bolt. The initial focus will be on the Zest, which is just days away from launch. We expect these two models to take us to a completely different position. The Bolt will be launched shortly after.

The Revotron engine (the new petrol Tata Motors has developed in-house) will especially be a game-changer for us. With the petrol market expanding, it is a good opportunity for us to differentiate. At the same time, we will also introduce the diesel AMT (automatic manual transmission), developed in collaboration with Fiat, in the Zest.

Why is there a new focus on petrols

We have been underserved in the petrol market and, with the Revotron, we can address that gap strongly. Petrol is a growth segment. In the long run, we want to be fuel-agnostic. It's our first strong foray in the petrol market. We want an equal share in both petrol and diesel car sales. Historically, we have had a very high share in diesel. The big growth for us in the short term will be in petrol.

How will the Zest and Bolt launches be spaced

We will make the first one (Zest) a success and make sure it settles in before the next one (Bolt). We have both models ready and there is no delay. The gap is more from a launch and go-to- market strategy point of view.

Tata Motors PV volumes dropped 36% to 198,812 vehicles in FY14. What sort of volume recovery are you anticipating following these launches

We have planned and programmed a very strong ramp-up. We have the manufacturing capacity and capability to be able to scale up, depending on demand and offtake. Clearly, we are a volume player and not a niche player, so we are looking at strong growth in volumes from these two models, though we do not give away any numbers.

Our two facilities in Pune will support the manufacturing of the Zest and the Bolt. In addition, we have a joint venture with Fiat in Ranjangaon. We are preparing all plants for these

launches and doing everything to

deliver volumes.

Tata Motors has seen a number of high-level exits of late. How has this impacted you

We are a very large company and there will always be some movement. We have a fairly stable, solid set of leaders and managers in this set-up. There will be no short-term impact as we have no skill gap. We are a 40,000-people strong organisation.

How many new model launches are you looking per year

We are on a path to transforming and turning around the business. Our product portfolio, plan and strategy were shaped last year and have been approved by the board. We have a clear investment plan and are on track. Essentially, the product lifecycle is shortening. We have some catching up to do, and the plan is to launch two completely new vehicles every year for the next five years.