Tata Motors bets on trucks for growth in 2017


India’s largest commercial vehicle maker Tata Motors, which has lost some market share to its rivals in recent times, is lining up a slew of launches and huge investment plans to fill the gaps. For Tata Motors, 2017 began with the launch of Xenon Yodha, a pick-up truck.

Over the next 12-15 months, Tata Motors will launch 15 new products and around 200 product variants ranging from its sub one tonne small truck Ace Zip to the heavy trucks. It will also spend close to around Rs 1,500-2,000 crore per year in the CV business, Ravi Pisharody, executive director – commercial vehicles, said on Tuesday.

“We are going to see a number of very critical launches. In the SCV Ace space, we are coming out with number of products. One big innovation will be extra deck lengths, which makes it very versatile…The Signa range, which is available in 49 tonnes and 40 tonnes (heavy trucks), over the next 12 months will permeate the whole range,” he said.

Almost half of Tata Motors buses are now on the Ultra light truck platform, and in the coming financial year it plans to roll-out many light trucks on the Ultra platform.

Tata Motors has sold 16 lakh Tata Ace SCVs since launch in 2005, but in the recent past, it has seen Mahindra & Mahindra race ahead with a string of new launches like the Jeeto and Supro. M&M’s pickup trucks too have been in strong demand. In 2015-16, Tata Motors’ market share in the sub 3.5 tonne segment dipped to around 40%.

Pisharody admits there were gaps in their portfolio, which are being filled.

“Tata stole a march with Ace for a long period of time…But then we saw a different type of battle, where a conventional pickup truck was re-priced at a price at almost Tata Ace prices. That led to the change in market share, suddenly a Tata Ace buyer found a equivalent or much higher vehicle at a comparable price,” said Pisharody.

Last fiscal, Tata Motors launched the Ace Mega, to rival M&M’s pickups, which has helped it claw back some market share. On Thursday, the company launched the new pickup truck Xenon Yodha, which is expected to give it further traction in the pickups space. The BS III version of the Yodha will be sold at Rs 6.05 lakh ex-showroom Thane, and the BS IV variant at Rs 6.19 lakh.

The company has only 20% market share in pickups, however, excluding that segment, it has regained market share in the SCV space to around 75%, claimed RT Wasan, vice-president – sales and marketing, commercial vehicle business.

The commercial vehicle industry has been impacted by the demonetisation. Tata Motors CV sales declined 9% in December, following a 17% drop in November.

However, sales are expected to pickup in Jan-March quarter, aided by the pre-buying that is expected in the wake of the mandatory BS IV norms that will be applicable from April 1. BS IV compliant vehicles will be slightly more expensive than the BS III products, currently sold in many parts. The sharp cut in lending rates by banks should also help drive new truck sales.

“The last few days of December gave us some confidence that customers are coming back. We see a fairly strong Jan-March quarter,” said Pisharody.