We had asked IndianAutosBlog.com readers on our Facebook page why Tata’s most advanced product, the Aria, is not selling well.
We’ve taken note of some thought-provoking replies and summarized them below:
This is one reason we saw in almost all the comments. People find the Tata Aria very expensive and overpriced, something that doesn’t bode well with the brand image. Tata’s products are inexpensive and offer 'more car per car' but the Aria seemed to break that rule and hurt itself in doing so.
Having advanced technology and more features is definitely the only way to keep pace with the competition, but the Indian customer isn’t willing to pay a premium, at least not on a brand they associate with low cost vehicles. Tata definitely has to make the pricing attractive without cutting down on the features.
Only through building advanced products can Tata make the customer change his opinion or view on the brand, but opinions take years and generations of products to change. The marketing of the product could have been better, India didn't buy the concept of a crossover.
Our reader Sandip Mohanty has put it across in a nice way “To me Aria is not pricey but rival companies offer cheaper products, even if its a bit inferior. And high price payers look for brand image.”
“It is undoubtedly the most advanced product from Tata but the main reasons for not doing so good in sales is that people are not ready to pay such a premium for Tata branded product,” said Shrikant Khandelwal.
Well this is one department where individual preferences are plenty. I feel that the Aria is a well-designed product, is simple, clean and has built the right amount of muscle, though the rear is too bland and the brings back images of the Indigo Marina.
The best looking part of this car is the front. It carries the typical Tata family face but with a more edgy and modern styling. The wide chrome grill and the long sweptback headlamps work for me, but I learn that it hasn't for many of our Facebook fans.
Coming to the side the design is again very clean. The huge glass area makes the car appear longer. The flared arches lend a muscular character to the mostly flat side panels.
The designer took all the time working on the front three quarters that the rear was just a last minute execution. In my view, Tata should carry out a rear-lift as the current design feels like its come from the Indica family.
The interior of Aria is again a feat for Tata Motors. By far, this is the best job done by their designers and the engineers and shows what awaits us on future models.
This vehicle is labelled as a 7 seater but the last row lacks space.
“3rd row seats not adequate, styling not good compared to competitors” says a nodding Abhi Muktheeswarar.
There are just too many storage options not just on the side pockets and floors but also on the roof. Tata has shown a more upmarket Aria at the 2012 Auto Expo featuring an expensive entertainment system and black tint headlights. These could be interesting inclusions on a limited edition model, with redone paint work and upholstery.
If there's one thing everything agrees on, it is Tata being the best special edition car producer in India. We don't see why an Aria special edition will not put the spotlight on this forgotten Tata.
The Tata Aria now comes in both 2WD and 4WD options. It is by far the most advanced product from Tata with features like Automatic headlamps, Rain sensing wipers, Navigation system, etc.
The engine is a 2.2L diesel motor and works silently. Currently the Aria uses a manual transmission but an automatic gearbox variant could be introduced too, if the Aria AT Concept from the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo is anything to go by.
Overall, the technical aspect has come a long way but the point that troubles the Aria is the poor reliability record of its older siblings. On top of this, there have been many horror stories about the Aria revisiting the service center with repeat complaints.
This is what Sree Ganesh had to complain, “My colleague's Aria got into an accident. Once taken to the dealer it was promised to be repaired in 20 days. He just got his Aria back a week ago - a complete 4.5 months after it was given for service. And within this 1 week time the Aria has visited the service station twice”
After Sales Service:
A major reason why people do not buy a Tata product is listening to the feedback from existing customers about the poor service quality they receive at the authorized service centres. While Tata is going all out to prove to its future customers that their products have indeed improved, they must also show improvements at the service center level. If a customer is paying for a premium product he should be treated to a premium experience.
Overall the Tata Aria is undoubtedly a premium MPV. If the next generation Indica and Indigo are designed and engineered the same way, they can compete with European and Asian car makers quite easily.
“Tata needs to improve its image drastically and the quality of plastics. The dealership attitude is also very sick. Tata has to work out in a major way on the whole package. The Aria is a great product but not projected in a right way, the company needs to uplift their image. I don't agree that the price should be reduced. Instead the quality should be upped. All the best Tata am sure you guys are good at it”, very apt suggestion by Ashish Bathija.
At the helm of GM India, Karl Slym introduced a game-changing service scheme of Chevrolet mini car owners not having to pay a penny for scheduled service and maintenance trips to the workshop for the first three years of ownership. This became an additional bonus when buying a Chevy, though it didn't drive up volumes.
The implementation of this scheme at Tata Motors workshops may not be feasible, but the big man has to come up with creative and never before seen strategies to all the problems that exist on the perception of Tata products and its ownership experience. The noose around Tata's neck is tightening with the constant bombardment of improved cars from the competition which now include world-class car companies such as Renault, Volkswagen and Nissan.
If not, the dream of being the No.2 company in India, may not be realized.
Head over to our Facebook Page to read all the replies.