If there was one company that stood out in fiscal 2022, and made the headlines for its overall sales performance, it was Tata Motors.
Two years ago, no one would have expected such a stellar performance from a home-grown brand for which very little seemed to be going right, so it is to the credit of its leadership team that it worked its strategies carefully, and the transformation is there for all to see.
Barely two years ago, the company’s marketshare was in single digits, and given the formidable competitors like Maruti which straddles the Indian auto scene like a colossus, and Hyundai which is an aggressive player, few would imagined this kind of a turnaround.
The company’s sales numbers at 370,372 units for FY22 was a stupendous improvement of 67 percent over its previous fiscal, with the company recording its highest ever annual sales as well as its highest ever annual sales in the EV segment in particular where its Nexon has blazed a trail and developed a strong connect with the buyer.
EV foray gains momentum
The good news on the results came within days of the announcement that Tata’s exclusive subsidiary for its EV foray received the first tranche of Rs 3,750 crore from the private equity fund TPG Rise. TPG had, in agreements signed last year, pledged an investment of Rs 7,500 crore in the EV subsidiary, Tata Motors Electric Mobility, and which is expected to be concluded by the end of this year.
As it attempted its comeback story, Tata Motors worked assiduously on three fronts including electric. The first was the SUV front where in the words of its senior thinktank, its products broke the mould on safety and design. The Punch, launched last October, achieved a five-star rating on the GNCAP ratings while its design template can be seen across the range.
In a previous interaction with Autocar Professional, vice president, sales, marketing and customer care, Tata Motors Passenger Cars, Rajan Amba described its SUV gameplan as wanting to be “where the customer is”, and elucidated this saying the company has taken innovative interventions such as the Dark and Gold editions, even as it introduced the Punch, a compact SUV, and an all-new Safari. It also launched the Altroz is also the first Tata model based on the carmaker’s new ALFA (Agile, Light, Flexible and Advanced) architecture.
Its foray into electric is set for further developments as the company receives its investment tranches from TPG. The Nexon has veriliy given the company a strong pillar on which it can further build and strengthen its electric foray.
The third pillar for its growth story is in the CNG arena which is of more recent origin more with the launch of two models -- Tigor and Tiago -- where the CNG options have been offered in the top-end version. Tata is up against Maruti , the segment leader with 9 offerings, but is betting on the fact that CNG is not longer seen as a fuel patronised by the tour and travel segment, and is confident that its pricing will bring in the numbers.
Looking back, the achievements of the last two years would seem difficult to image when one looks at the company’s script with the Nano, the people’s car, which did not go as per plan. Yet, its achievements on the SUV and electric segments are a testament that a company can actually go arguably back to the drawing board and script a revival story.
Tata Motors’ achievements have to be seen in the context of the increasing maturity of its relatiohsip with JLR which is acquired over a decade ago. Two of its SUV offerings including the Harrier and new Safari have been built on the OMEGA ARC platform jointly developed with JLR. Tata has already indicated that there are opportunities in new technology where collaboration can be envisaged with its UK arm in areas such as ADAS, electronic architecture, a connected car, over-the-air software updates.
As the new fiscal begins, Tata will attempt to build on its momentum in electric and SUV. Shailesh Chandra, who is MD of the passenger division and heads its EV arm says the company is crystal clear about wanting to make cleaner cars and SUVS. The company is clear that it will leverage the eco-system that is being built with the likes of Tata Power, a group, which is setting up 1000 EV chargers.
Last year, Tata Group announced its intent to enter into the making of semiconductors, and intends to invest $300 million in a semiconductor assembly and testing unit.
Tata Motors will be keenly watched in the years ahead even as the country grapples with challenges and opportunities on the EV front, the impact of the Ukraine war, the chips crisis and new and emerging mobility options.