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.
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)
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 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.
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?
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]