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Tata Motors has something to show. Finally

Tata Motors unveils two new cars: Zest and Bolt

Published: Feb 3, 2014 03:42:36 PM IST
Updated: Feb 3, 2014 05:19:18 PM IST
Tata Motors has something to show. Finally

The event kicked off with homage to Karl Slym. Everybody got up. There was Slym’s picture right in front of us. 1963-2014. In the last 15 months or so that he spent at Tata Motors, Slym had only one agenda in his mind: Tata Motors had to wake up to create a new product. Everybody, from engineering to quality to design must come together and build a fresh product. One that is not called Indica or Vista or Manza. Everything about it had to be new. And cool, young and fun. Something very unlike Tata Motors.

After putting in months of hard work, Tata Motors today unveiled two new vehicles: a sub-4-metre sedan called Zest and a hatchback called Bolt. Both these vehicles have been built on the modified X1 platform, same as Vista and Manza. But that’s where the commonality ends. “Everything else about these vehicles is new. From the design to engineering to engines to electronics,” said Tim Leverton, head of research and development (R&D) at Tata Motors.

Both cars will be available in petrol and diesel variants. They will be powered by the 1.2 T Revotron engine, which is a petrol turbocharged engine. The Zest will also be available with the F-Tronic Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) technology, which, to put it simply, is like driving a car without a clutch. “Ease of driving is going to be a big thing in the future. AMT is better than a fully automatic transmission in terms of fuel efficiency. You will certainly see it in other portfolio products as well. 2014 is going to be an exciting year and Tata Motors will be in the midst of it,” said Ranjit Yadav, president of the passenger vehicles business. Both vehicles will be launched in the second half of 2014.

Tata Motors has something to show. Finally
The cars look interesting. With a bold design, new grille, LED tail lamps and a whole host of new functionalities on offer, they clearly indicate that Tata Motors is thinking of jazzing up things. And get some volumes. The last two years have been tough for the company.

So is there some space in the premium hatchback segment for Tata to play? Can Zest compete with Maruti Dzire? These are all open questions right now. What’s also important to know is that Tata is not retiring any of its other vehicles to make space for these two. So, Vista, Indica and Manza will continue. “We expect them to be complementary. Even if it cannibalises to some extent, it is okay,” said Yadav.

Any Tata Motors press conference, of course, does not end with questions just about the cars. The question of Euro NCAP safety norms came up twice. What’s a world class vehicle? What do you mean global? Does it meet Euro NCAP safety norms? “The vehicle meets all Indian safety standards and we are working with SIAM to improve them further,” Leverton said. It wasn’t a very satisfactory answer.

There was another interesting question: What after Karl Slym? Tata Motors has never seen a strong leader, also one who would hang around for a good time. The current crop of top marketing people have all been brought in by Slym. What will they do? Will they exit? Yadav took that question pretty sportingly: “Karl has helped build teams. We believe there is a lot to do. And it is an exciting place to be.” He is right. 2014 is a big year for Tata Motors. It can’t afford to bungle it up.

(This story appears in the 07 February, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Vijay Prakash

    Hop so New Car not a Joke in Indian Car Customer ……………! People frosted old cars perfumes, no perfumes, No quality, no resale value , No Customer certification, Services center Only Money Maker

    on Feb 10, 2014
  • Dhruv Vyas

    tata motors jai ho bring up.....

    on Feb 4, 2014