Mr. Ranjit Yadav, the newly appointed president of the passenger cars division at Tata Motors, spoke to Indian Autos Blog yesterday afternoon at the launch of the Tata Vista D90.
Mr. Yadav gave us a good perspective on the evolution of the current range of models as well as the impending entry into new segments that are growing strongly.
Competitors are arming themselves with compact sedans, this year Mahindra and Honda enter this space. Is it time to bring out a Vista CS/Manza CS as that's something you've shown is possible to do?
Tata Motors practically pioneered the compact sedan category. It was extremely successful and now many other players also find it interesting to do. Clearly, below four meters (segment) is a zone where the Indian design, development and production can be world class. That's a segment we look at actively, without naming brands and models, we will look at that and we will fulfill that.
Looking ahead, which department or aspect of the Nano would you place your focus on?
The Nano is a great concept, which is coming into it own, hitting its infliction point. Going forward the vehicle will be focused at the youth and the young enterprising user. Incidentally the most expensive variant has the maximum demand. People are willing to pay for value, they see value, they are willing to pay the price and its a common theme we see across. As we go forward with the Nano franchise, there's a lot we will do. Design, features or performance, we look at everything.
The Aria's a technologically superior car for Tata Motors, but perhaps its been misunderstood. Have you planned changes for 2013 as later this year it would reach its mid-life stage?
The Aria shows the ability and capability of the company, bringing the latest best in class product to the market. Perhaps it was a little ahead of its time, that's why the market development has been challenging. We are working on a number of things on the Aria, not today, but in the near future we will talk about that. (Mr. Yadav promised to speak about it in our next meeting, hinting that something may well be around the corner)
We haven't heard much about the Grande DICOR lately. Doesn't the original Safari, post the Storme's launch, overlap with the Grande, from the angle of product positioning? Is that a worry?
The Storme with time will replace the Safari. The market for UVs is expanding dramatically, there are various opportunities for growth with the Grande and Sumo Gold. We will be addressing all these opportunities in a systematic way. Current focus is to bring the Storme and Sumo Gold to scale, work is happening on this.
We are a company with a problem of plenty, one of the challenge is we have a whole range of vehicles and we can't address all of them at the same time. There's a go-to market, launch, build to volume cadence which we have to build over a period of time, so for the short-term in the last few months we launched four models, we're digesting that and then we will bring the next.
We have seen many alternative fuel concept vehicles form you in past motor shows. You brought the Manza Hybrid concept to Delhi last year. Do you plan to put it into production?
There's a lot of work happening. Its a technology we are shadowing and working closely on and at the right time we will bring products together. Bi-Fuel is the one which is of interest, with CNG. In India, there's a need for fuel economy, that's an area which we continue to work on strongly.
What do you make of the crossover segment that is putting manufacturers on the map and helping greatly in reaching their sales targets?
That's a segment that is emerged and is very strong. Its quite evident from the numbers that are coming on the table.
Basically in India there's an inherent need for ruggedized vehicles which can do more than just a simple car can do and the crossovers are addressing that segment as well. In the short and medium term we are focused on the real SUVs, so the Storme, the Sumo, the Grande, we have enough on our plate in the near term. On the long term, depending on opportunity, we will be addressing that as well. We are watching this space and working on it as well.