During our Bolt drive, we spend some time with Mayank Pareek, the president of passenger vehicle business unit, Tata Motors. Excerpts from
the interview: There are “conflicting” media reports about the Zest? Some reports say it is doing well, others say it is not. What is your take?
The demand for the Zest has been far more than what was forecast. As a result, today almost all variants of the Zest have a waiting period. If a product’s demand is more than supply, it only means that the product is worth buying. In fact, for some variants of the Zest, the waiting period runs into few months. So that puts the prospective customer under some discomfort; who wants to want a few months for a car! We are making all efforts to improve supply. People say the prediction was incorrect. But if a prediction was always right, it would be a science, not an art.
What has the Zest delivered for Tata Motors?
One, the Zest introduced a completely new gasoline engine, the Revotron, into the Indian market. Historically, Tata Motors is known as a diesel car maker, but the Revotron is being appreciated by most Tata customers. Today, 60% of Zest sales are composed of petrol variants. Two, typically, for the last few years, a large number of Tata cars were sold to fleet-operators. Selling to fleet-operators is different from selling to individual customers. The challenge was whether individual customers will even come to a Tata showroom? Today, 100% of Zest cars are sold to individual customers. These two factors are tipping points for Tata Motors—first, a strong entry into the petrol engine market; second, a strong entry into the individual customer base.
How has Tata worked on getting more people into the showrooms?
That 4,000 people every month are buying the Zest says something about the fact that people, indeed, are going into Tata showrooms. Since I have joined the company I have noticed that Tata, as a company, has a huge inherent goodwill in India. Backed by a good product, people are willing to give Tata Motors a chance.
Would you like to add something to Horizonext?
Horizonext is something we hold very dear. It is a quest for excellence in every sphere of business, and comprises of four pillars. First is products, which are world-class, designed well and have a great infotainment system. Second is world-class manufacturing capability. Third is providing our customers a unique shopping experience. Fourth is dedicated service. I must add that in the JD Power survey, Tata Motors used to have sixth or seventh positions, but now our ranking has improved to fourth, and our score improved by 34 points, which is the second-highest in the industry. The Horizonext, thus, lays a very strong foundation for our future.
Will the Bolt also get the AMT gearbox?
We have the technology and we will keep exciting the market with newer products and newer technologies.
The AMT, in fact, is proving to be the tipping point in the Indian automobile industry. For a large number of Indians, it is as amazing a driving experience as it can get. I think in about 10 years every second car in India would be an AMT.
How difficult is selling a Tata car as against a Maruti car?
I don’t think car-selling is a difficult business; is it enjoyable, on the contrary. Every brand gives you unique opportunities, which need to be leveraged.
Which car do you get driven in, now?
Depends on where I am. In Mumbai, it is the Aria, and sometimes the Evoque.
Do you like the Aria?
It is a very good car. Perhaps its marketing could have been better.
Will Tata also focus on its bigger cars such as the Aria and the Safari?
We will focus on every car that is relevant to the Indian customer.