Tata Motors is betting on electric and CNG vehicles to have the lion’s share in the fleet segment of the passenger vehicle (PV) industry. “There are technologies like electric and CNG which I would say will be the dominant ones to service this segment, Shailesh Chandra, president – PVBU, Tata Motors, tells Autocar Professional during a media briefing at the launch of the Xpres brand.
Tata Motors doesn’t have a CNG vehicle in its portfolio yet, but it won’t be surprising if the first Tata CNG variant makes its debut under ‘Xpres’, as the brand will cater to its target customers with multiple powertrain options.
The fleet segment is currently is one of the worst hit by the pandemic, however, Chandra sees “very high” growth potential as the pandemic situation improves. He sees quite a few “tailwinds”. “Once this all fear is gone, after vaccination, and therefore I would imagine that in any industry if the demand is muted for a while, there will be pent up demand which will get built up,” says Chandra. Fleet demand had contributed around 13 percent of the passenger vehicle industry sales in FY2015. It fell to about 7 percent in FY2020. Considering a replacement cycle of 4 to 5 years, the industry can expect a healthy pent-up demand from fleet customers.
Though the Xpres-T (rechristened e-Tigor) will be the first model under the Xpres brand, the fleet segment wasn’t the key target for Tata Motors as it was building its electric PV business. One factor was the general image association of a fuel/technology to the commercial segment of PVs, if it finds large scale adoption there. However, with the strong TCO proposition of EVs, and the growing number of state government policies addressing a key hurdle of acquisition cost, their case becomes stronger for the fleet segment. Tata Motors’ new move, it says, is more in tune with the evolution it sees in the marketplace.
And that is a growing potential for differentiated products. Chandra says that in the past, “the boundary between meeting the requirement of fleet and personal segment was very blur”. So, Tata Motors’ focus now is to offer PVs under the ‘Xpres’ brand that are quite differently conceptualised, in terms of features and other functionalities, from their siblings for the personal market, though they will share the same body style and platform. The plan is to offer at least one new offering a year under the ‘Xpres’ brand.