‘We’re expecting a very good response to Prima LX truck range.”

Shobha Mathur speaks to Ravi Pisharody on the launch of the 10-strong Prima LX range of M&HCVs.

By Shobha Mathur calendar 15 Mar 2014 Views icon3728 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Shobha Mathur speaks to Ravi Pisharody on the launch of the 10-strong Prima LX range of M&HCVs.

The Prima LX range has been launched in a slowing CV market. What are your sales expectations?
We are expecting a very good response. Before we rolled out these products, we had vehicle trials underway with various customers.
Sales in the current environment are very difficult but in 2014-15 this is going to be a significant product in our portfolio. Sales also depend on how the market responds but it will start getting more significant. We are entering the multi-axle segment with the Prima for the first time and that itself will give a big boost to the market.

How much will it improve your market share?
At 64-66 percent, people believe that we can only go down. They don’t believe that in the last 10 years we have been steady. We can’t say that we will improve market share by 5 or 10 percent but will keep improving steadily and keep giving better value to customers.

Daimler has announced a Rs 425 crore investment in a bus plant at Chennai. With new entrants like Scania also coming in, will they eat into your market share?
Firstly, the bus industry is not a very large business and in an industry of 700,000-800,000, the bus market size is less than 100,000 units. The fact is that everyone is interested in India because there are not many markets growing.
Despite the downturn, people believe that over a 3-5 year time span the market will recover. We continue to be one of the largest players in buses and will continue to remain so. We have a lot of products in buses, LCVs, ICVs with two dedicated body building units.
We will keep doing what is good for our business and launch new products. We hold a 45-50 percent market share in buses and maybe will hold similar or up to 55 percent over a 2-3 year time span.

Tata’s Prima trucks will soon be racing at the BIC. What are your expectations from this new initiative?
Motorsport racing is part of a brand-building exercise for the Prima and brand building for Tata Motors. It is also bringing forth exciting options of truck racing for the truck segment. Today people are used to two-wheeler and car racing.
In the first year, we are going with international drivers as a lot of our customers will bring their drivers to watch the races. In the next edition, many of our drivers may train for it and participate in a fully Indian one. So, for our customers and drivers it is an option to showcase their skills.

Any new green CVs in the pipeline?
We already have. At the Auto Expo, we had a hybrid bus, an LNG truck, an articulated bus. For green to be commercially viable, we need a lot of government support as well as subsidies as in many other countries.
In this year’s JNNURM there are some tenders for hybrid and articulated CVs, so we hope that will take off. It will depend on what orders we get but it will definitely be a small number.

After the Defence Expo, did Tata bag any new orders? There was talk of a 1,000 heavy duty trucks order in the offing?
That was before the Defence Expo. We have talked about it; there is an order for 1,200 6x6 defence trucks which we have quoted for and the final negotiations are going on with the Ministry of Defence. Defence is a more long-term business than short term.
Some of our trucks are mining trucks. Mining has gone in through a bit of a holiday though some signs of legitimate licensing is coming back, which has been the industry demand — don’t look at all mining operations as illegitimate.

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