Tata SUVs break the mold in safety, design

Tata Motors is making big strides in its SUV business. Last October, it launched its compact SUV, the Punch, which has sold in good numbers and has given the company’s SUV business a major thrust.

This 3.8 m compact SUV contributed a fifth to the company’s tally of 100,000 units sold in the period October 2021 to January 2022.

Vice President, Sales, Marketing and Customer Care, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles, Rajan Amba says, “Our overall marketshare has gone up to 22 percent in SUVs, and in the two segments in which we are present, our share in now 33-35 percent.” Amba was speaking at last month’s launch of the Kaziranga editions which Tata has introduced in the top trim of its four offerings which also includes the Nexon, Safari and Harrier.

Asked about the strategy for SUVs, Amba puts is succinctly. Tata Motors wanted to be “where the customer is”. Getting there, he explains has meant several things and the company worked assiduly to make its presence in the SUV segment. The market has been moving towards SUVs, and “ we haven’t been late”, Amba says adding that Tata Motors leveraged the momentum in SUVs taking several interventions over the last year. This included the launch of the Safari and Punch, as well as aesthetic interventions such as the Dark and Gold editions. At a time when others were cutting down, we were investing more, reiterates Amba. “We used this as an opportunity to front end our true capabilities,” he adds.

Amba reiterates that as the company emerged from the pandemic, “everyday has been Day1” and that “ it was necessary to be humble”. Tata was at single digit market share for PVs and today, it can be proud of the fact that “its efforts have paid off”. Amba insists that “we did not take the customer for granted”.

Naming its special edition line-up after Kaziranga, Amba explains was a conscious decision to take inspiration from India which has its own unique natural diversity “ The Kaziranga does represent India and while parks in the west are better known, we wanted to also bring in the uniqueness of Kaziranga which is ion another part of the country,” he adds.

Happy dealers

The volume growth that Tata is seeing has made its dealers “the happiest in the community”, says Amba not only because of the financial aspect but the success of the brand. He is then quick to acknowledge that the dealers have been with us “ through thick and thin and they have stood by us”. On their part, the dealers have invested in showrooms, in expansion and across the platform, we see “renewed energy and excitement”. Tata Motors continues to work closely with its dealers and has deepened the involvement and integration over the last 18 months or so.

Amba also says that the company has pulled out all stops to ensure that its SUV business can continue to be robust and impactful. He reiterates that like all OEMs, Tata Motors too operates in a world of new technologies in India and overseas, and moreover, the consumer in all categories has evolved. He also admits that while demand has gone up, new players in the segment, a reference to aggressive players like Kia and MG Rover means no player can afford to be found sleeping at the wheel, figuratively speaking.

Tata Motors’ journey to a robust position in SUVs has hinged on several factors. As Amba explains it, this includes design and alludes to the big SUV offering of the company, the Harrier which is rugged and literally screams “ SUV”. Tata, he explains has learned that the design aspect has “equity with the customer”.

Tata Motors has also broken the mold in safety and that this has been agreed to by the customer. The Punch scored a full five star-rating in Global NCAP’s crash tests with the organization giving the compact SUV a four-star rating for child occupant safety. Amba also says the company had the “guts” to launch the Dark editions even though it does have very positive connotations for Indian buyers.

Finally, Amba signs off by saying that the introduction of a CNG option in the upper end of the Tiago and Tigor has got off to a great start with sales of both offerings in the region of 3,000 units in the very first month. As he says, “We have a great bookings pipeline and got the price right. At the end of the day, the Indian customer does not want to be treated as cheap and is actually very economy-minded.”

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