‘The Tata Ultra has many industry-first features'

Habib Saleh, business head (sales and marketing) buses and vans, ILCV Trucks (CVBU) on Tata Motors’ new Ultra range and its prospects.

By Kiran Bajad calendar 26 May 2014 Views icon8034 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

Habib Saleh, business head (sales and marketing) buses and vans, ILCV Trucks (CVBU) on Tata Motors’ new Ultra range and its prospects.

Can you explain why you have launched an eight- and nine-tonner in the Ultra range?
If you look at our four-tonne category, we have the 407 which is the single largest-selling model in the country and an iconic brand. We have an overwhelming market share in that segment.
This is one segment where we have a lower share, so we have launched the 8- and 9-tonne range. But we are ready with other products with the Ultra range and it is only a matter of time before we come with the entire range. We will have both the ranges concurrently – the Ultra range with the conventional model. We believe there would be two sets of customers – the price-sensitive customer and the performance-sensitive customer.

Is the Ultra range on the more premium side?
This is a high-performance vehicle, which explains the price being on the higher side by 10-12 percent as compared to conventional trucks. In the future, we see the Prima as our key range for the M&HCV segment and the Ultra for the ILCV.

What numbers are you looking at?
It is very difficult to predict the numbers as of today as to what percentage of customers will move towards the high-performance vehicles but we believe this segment with its category of vehicles is where the entire industry is going to grow.
The 9-tonne vehicle market is in the region of 12,000 units and the 11-tonne market is about 29,000 units. That works out to 40,000 units per annum (in India). We expect the industry to grow by about 15 percent.

Will tubeless tyres and front discs be standard features?
Yes, the Ultra range has many industry-first features. Only air-conditioning and automatic manual transmission will be optional.

Why has the small CV segment fallen so drastically?
It has to do with the business cycle. It was first felt in the M&HCV segment and has now petered down to the SCVs. It is like hub-and-spoke, hub first and spoke later. In the past 2-3 months, we have seen an upside in terms of freight rates and construction business and that seems to suggest that a rebound will happen.

Tell us a bit about how Tata Motors went about developing these trucks.
There were requirements that were not there earlier, and the driver was a key differentiator. In most trucks, the cabin is locally-made despite each manufacturer in India including Tata being able to provide a cabin. Truckers prefer to buy the cowl and make their own wooden cabins.
The driver has become an integral part of the entire trucking business and that means driver comfort is very essential. Driver fatigue affects overall truck efficiency. So the package must include cabin comfort, seating comfort and air-conditioning. The air-conditioner is optional but it might become a standard fitment down the line. In the Ultra, we have offered the customer a modern cab.



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