‘We want to bring to India solutions which are proven globally and our tie-up with Microlise will enable that.’
Sanjay Gupta, Head (Telematics & Fleet Management Services), Tata Motors, speaks to Kiran Bajad about plans to increase penetration in the telematics business and develop new products for the Indian market.
Can you give us a brief introduction on the telematics market in India?
Telematics in India is pretty new and this market is not yet grown to a large extent. Only medium and heavy commercial vehicle, buses and radio cabs use telematics solutions in India and there are not many organised players in this segment. Out of the total M&HCV sales in India, only 5-8 percent of them have as this as OEM fitments. To fill the gap and provide reliable solutions. Tata Motors has entered in this business just two-and-half years ago.
How does Tata Motors plan to go about increasing awareness of telematics in India and enhance market penetration?
At present, the telematics penetration is very low mainly because it is relatively new to the Indian market, and introduced around 5-7 years ago. The market is divided between OEMs and the aftermarket. There are only a few OEMs which are offering these solutions. We have entered this market not expecting a huge volume but our approach is to provide value to our customers. We see, like the rest of the world, that India has to adopt telematics because it ultimately helps manage vehicle fleets efficiently, deliver safety and also fuel efficiency.
In India fleet and truck owners in general are very cost conscious and don’t want to add costs. How do you plan to face this challenge?
You are correct but commercial vehicles are about business and once fleet owners realise that an additional investment is making business sense, then they will surely opt for it. This same thing has happened with radial tyres and other things that we introduced in the past and we are very confident that similarly telematics will grow. As truck owners started taking to it and using it, they will surely realise the benefits.
Tell us about your FleetMan telematics solutions?
Our telematics service is called FleetMan. Till now we have been offering solutions developed completely in-house inclusive of a single plan. Going forward with our new partner Microlise, we will be shortly launching multiple plans with multiple solutions tailor-made for all customers’ needs. New packages include driver performance assessment, vehicle health management or temperature management for niche players. In the next six months, we will be offering these solutions to the Indian customers.
You have been in the market since 2012. What is the customer feedback and are they ready for change?
Any businessman will only look at solutions if it makes business sense for him, which means the benefits are greater than the costs. The initial cost of the hardware unit is the biggest hindrance, but with telematics offered as OE fitment then customers won’t pay anything extra. Currently, our Prima range of HCVs have telematics as standard fitment. In the next 12 months, we expect our entire heavy vehicle range will be fitted with telematics solutions as a standard fitment. Following this, we will look at medium vehicles and even intermediate vehicles in the next phase.
Are you targeting only M&HCV players and large fleet operators or all types of customers?
Large customers have already been penetrated to a large extent but as a market leader Tata Motors has to look at the smaller transporters and educate them. We want to use our resources and knowledge to bring awareness to relatively smaller players.
Is there customer training involved while offering telematics solutions?
Yes, customer training is an integral part of what we are selling because the market is not highly penetrated and it is still in the realm of concept selling. We have to convince the customer about the concept we also find that the awareness levels are quite low. We undertake customer training in various ways through customer meets, on-site training, on-line training and we also have awareness creation camps.
What is your target of telematics penetration for the next 2-3 years?
We are targeting double-digit growth. In the next three years, we would like to achieve 15 present of our total M&HCV sales from the present 5-8 percent.
How expensive are these telematics solutions?
If you see the cost of trucks like the 25-tonne rigid costing Rs 18 lakhs upward, a telematics unit will cost just Rs 11,000 and the annual subscription cost is Rs 4,800. If you translate the benefit to the customers in monitory terms, it can be recoverded in only a couple of months.
What benefits will your tie-up with Microlise will bring?
Our partnership with the UK-based Microlise, one of Europe’s leading telematics and fleet management companies, will help extend our offerings with wider products in the telematics segment. Tata Motors’ competence is in manufacturing and marketing and therefore it was simple choice for us to go to the best available and provide solution to the Indian customers. Secondly, we want to bring to India solutions which are proven globally and in the next six months we will able to make those technologies available to Indian customers. Microlise has strong R&D back-up and we will able to undertake join development with them.
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