Reader Feedback – Why did the Tata Grande fail to capture the pro-SUV Indian market?

Posted on: Feb 18, 2013 - 1:57pm IST

We had asked IndianAutosBlog.com’s self-formed reader group on our Facebook page why the Tata Grande is not doing well in a fast-growing UV market that clocked a phenomenal 58% growth in the ten months of the current financial year. Our fans were more than happy to participate and presented their thoughts through comments, summarized here below.

Tata Sumo Grande MkII

Brand perception:

A common feeling every reader posted on is, it is the ‘Sumo’ tag that Tata had initially associated with the vehicle that led to the disaster. While the original Tata Sumo was a leading brand in the personal vehicle segment back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, its not a family SUV/car any longer. The Sumo is now a taxi operator’s tool and a very small percentage of customers buy it for personal use. The brand managers at Tata should have used the Grande name from day one to leave a wider range of the target market open to this product. (This was not a one off case, a similar strategy was recommended for the Vista and Manza)

Design:

Tata Sumo Grande MkII dashboard

While it is not the best looking vehicle in the SUV range, the Grande is definitely a big step forward from the boxy looking Sumo. Compared to its competition the Grande looks, dare we say, futuristic, but its a subjective matter. The interior is simple but complaints of poor quality and finish are raised. An improvement in terms of materials along with better fit and finish is necessary to alter perceptions.

Engineering and Reliability:

Tata Sumo Grande MkII wheelbase

Tata Motors has evolved by many folds in terms of engineering and technology but the durability and reliability are worrisome to some our Facebook readers. Tata has been updating and improving their products very quickly so this complaint would sort itself out with time. Readers have also pointed out that the Grande needs better handling, which the rear leaf spring suspension limits. Tata improved many mechanical aspects of the Grande with the Mk II, but a permanent solution can be found only with a monocoque.

Safety features:

Tata Sumo Grande MkII steering wheel

Tata Motors used the Sumo’s chassis to build the Grande. This had many benefits, two of which were low price and short gestation period. The biggest drawback was the poor technology content on this platform. Since the Sumo is one of its first models, Tata had to miss out on safety features such as ABS or Airbags. These expensive additions, if installed on-board the Grande, could also cannibalize into the Safari’s market share. Inclusion of safety features like ABS and Airbags at least as an option is a must in today’s market where 60% buyers are booking high-end variants for these features.

So what can be done?

Tata Sumo Grande MkII unveiling

The question still remains, how can Tata Motors push the sales of the Grande upwards? For a start, Tata needs to refresh the exterior with a facelift that transforms the look of the vehicle. The interior needs an upgrade with better quality, fit and finish, expected for the price the vehicle commands. A Club Class variant for the Grande, with some of these changes to gauge customer reaction, can be launched before introducing a fully refined and refreshed Grande Mk III.

[Feedback Source – IAB’s Facebook Page; Photographs – Ritesh Madhok for Indian Autos Blog]

Next would you like to read more about the or more about Tata Motors?

18 thoughts on “Reader Feedback – Why did the Tata Grande fail to capture the pro-SUV Indian market?

  1. sandy says:

    We buyers often put our heart n eyes on the front row, then put our touch n feel on the second row and leave our brain to make final decision. So Sumo Grande’s interior-exterior design itself got filtered out. Many found Scorpio and Xylo more proportionate to their eyes. Sumo Grande’s design looks- after thought rather then ground up unlike its rivals; and its profile too bulky for our eyes. Personally, I like Bolero’s profile as it looks sure footed light yet rugged. Unlike Sumos, Scorpio, Xylo which gives feeling of body roll and a sense of heaviness, Bolero looks more settled.
    IMO, Tata should bid farewell to Sumo Grande, concentrate on Sumo(Gold) to make it more capable and rugged 4×2 and 4×4 UV like Thar or Gurkha. If at all they want Bolero/Xylo rivaling product, then they have to start from scratch once again.

    Reply
  2. kapil says:

    Tata has to bring new design and better fit and finsih and once it does that it can export all over the world. Take a leaf out of Mahindra.

    10 years ago Mahindra was no where close to Tata but today Mahindra is making Tata eat dust. A good SUV size of Grande for 8 seating at 9lacs should have swept the market in the taxi trade but no one wants to buy unreliable vehicles which may be cheap to buy but expensive to maintain.

    Reply
  3. Nikhil says:

    I believe they have to hire some young talented designers than keeping oldies. Tata cars never followed a global design language like others do. Its seems like they just need the volume pullers not the beuty babes like Hyundai-

    Reply
  4. Ashutosh says:

    I somehow missed the FB post, so commenting here.
    As a owner of a Grande MK II for over one and a half years, here is what I have noted.
    # Poor fit and finish and build quality of interiors. Parts rattle, squeak (including the seats!) every day.
    # Leg space. If I am sitting (height 6 ft) in the driver’s seat, there is limited leg room for the passenger sitting behind me. This could have been easily solved had there been a sliding option for the rear seats too.
    # Power. While the engine is tuned towards better FE. There isn’t much difference b/w the FE of Safari and Grande (Both have identical engines, only the ECU settings differ). Engine could have been tuned better.
    # Suspension. Archaic leaf springs are better if the car is fully loaded. If I am alone, the ride gets too bouncy.

    Reply
  5. Winfred says:

    TATA now has a very low brnad value and now used as a bad example to quote…..I think the entire company got struck in Nano and unable to move on….

    To change the brand perception, they need to take extreme steps and not just incremenetal ones.

    They need more glamour….there is hope through, there is a new CEO and we should give him time to turn it around.

    Grande needs to cut its height….They need to make a grande out of Rangerover like the Suzuki made a swift out of a Mini cooper.

    TATA is a great Indian brand and they should gain a Mahendra kind of space atleast in the auto sector….

    Reply
  6. roy v mathai says:

    They have to change thier attitude become more western -why can’t they just dump their old products and brands and go en masse a-la-hyundai

    Reply
  7. sashi says:

    The name sumo meant for cabs! One among the grave mistakes of TATA!

    Tata vehicles lack the most important aspect ie.quality! look at the bolero .its performing very vell even with its boxy look.

    Tata designers are still in the 19th century or they are not aware of what is happening around the world. At least let them bring the JLR designers to take a look of their fleet !

    The flop story is never ending. Look at the aria. A premium disasater. BTW what is the difference in the front view design of aria and indica Lets wait for the story of storme. A perfect example for decade old design disaster!

    TATA’s having everything. The drive to introduce vehicle, good dealer network,the brand image . They can easily become a good player in the market. For that they need professionalism!

    Reply
    1. Ramesh says:

      Regarding Storme, Tata has brought out a niggle free product and the market response has been quite good. Once of my friends has purchased it and has covered 3000 Kms and has been raving about it.

      Reply
      1. sashi says:

        It could be an engineering wonder.But why such a product need a decade old look?

  8. Ramesh says:

    A few things Tata need to do better :
    Contemporary and stylish designs, irrespective of the platform. Tata seem to be Bankrupt where design ideas are concerned. All their cars from the old indigo to the vista and even the Aria looks the same including the grill and taillamp. Very few people among the public even know that the Vista and Manza are based on a totally different platforms. Even when they made the Storme which is 80% new, they called it a Safari and used the same bodyshell. Even though its an excellent SUV most people in the general public think its a minor facelift on the old Safari.

    So, while other manufacturers come with just new bodyshells on old platforms and call it a totally new car, Tata comes out with totally new platforms and put old bodyshells on them.

    Another issue with them is positioning. They bring Aria with all the features of a premium SUV, price it like a premium SUV, but style it like a MUV. So instead of people comparing it with Fortunner or Pajero, they are comparing it with Innova and the result is that last month Tata sold just 50 odd Arias.

    They also need to come up with vehicles which are niggle free from day 1 of launch (like Storme)and not wait for customers to do the testing for them.

    As an Indian I really wish Tata Motors to succeed.If only they would learn to do things right.

    Reply
    1. Autofreak says:

      Vista and Manza are of same platform, as far as I know.

      Reply
      1. Ramesh says:

        My apologies, you are right. What I meant to write was the Vista/Manza platform (X1) platform and the old Indigo (X0) platform. So instead of writing that the Vista and old Indigo are different platforms, I ended up writing what I wrote!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author
Shoeb
Shoeb Kalania

An Automobile Engineer by qualification and an automobile designer by passion, I am here with IndianAutosBlog to live my passion and do so by providing you with renderings and sketches of future vehicles.