Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Nano misunderstood as a cheap product'

Manu P Toms, Hindustan Times
Geneva, March 02, 2011

Tata Motors CEO & MD Carl Peter Forster spoke to HT about the auto maker's future plans for Jaguar Land Rover in India, China partnership, joint venture with Fiat and small wonder Nano on the sidelines of the Geneva Motor Show. Excerpts: . What is the road ahead for Jaguar Land Rover in India?
We will start with Freelander hopefully in June. Other Jaguar Land Rover products might follow. We will increase the number of JLR dealerships. We are already in ten cities and we will increase this to 13.

Other luxury car manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi sell 3,000-5,000 units a year in India. Are you anywhere close to these levels?
We have to do a little bit of catch up. We are not in this volume game. They are trying to be number 1 in luxury market and we are not. Luxury market is not run by numbers but the strength of the brand, technology and tradition. And later on volumes will follow.

Lots of things are being talked about your partnership with Fiat in India. It is said you are redrawing your retail strategy...?
We are in the middle of a very open discussion on how we can make things work better and how we can improve volumes. Improving retail sales is part of our discussion. We believe that we are overburdening our dealers with too many different products. At the same time, we want to continue our relation with our good partners. We need to develop a new model over time. Not just retail strategy, everything including product- sharing and part-sharing are discussed.

Have you addressed customer concerns about Nano? A recent survey said customers are least satisfied with Tata cars.
We are not hearing any complaint. People are happy with Nano. If we look into the survey Nano is trailing little bit.

What about Nano sales?
Last month we sold 8,262 units, which is a good growth. I think Nano is misunderstood as a cheap product. The product needs to be rightly communicated in the market. One idea is to showcase Nano as one of the most fuel-efficient cars.

What is the future plan for the electric Indica, which you are launching in the UK?
We will deliver 80 units of Vista EVX to fleet operators in the UK. We will begin very small and gain experience. We will see how the electric power train technology develops. As of now there is no money to be made there. Initially this will be confined to the UK market.

(The writer's trip to Geneva was sponsored by Tata Motors)

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