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Saturday, July 05, 2014

By Kamal Swami

Tata Motors to focus on developing cars of new designs

Onlookers and commuters on Marine Drive, Mumbai's most famous promenade, recently witnessed a rare spectacle — the reticent and low-key chairman of India's largest conglomerate Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry, at the wheels of 'Zest', a new sub-4 metre compact sedan that group company Tata Motors is set to roll out in the market in the coming months. Mistry, 46, was testing a vehicle that carries the burden of enormous expectations as the company hopes the new model will help reverse a precipitous decline in domestic market share. 
 
In an interaction with ET, Girish Wagh, senior vice-president, programme planning and project management, recounted how Mistry had asked his team in Pune to bring along the Zest on their next trip to Mumbai. "He (Mistry) was quite pleased," says Wagh about the chairman's reaction to his driving experience and a number of improvements in the final version, some of which were carried out at Mistry's behest. The successor to Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, is as involved in the nuts and bolts of designing a new car as his predecessor, whose passion for automobiles is well-known, he says.
 
The Zest, a compact sedan, is the first new car off the block and will compete with Honda Amaze, Swift DZire and Hyundai's Xcent. It will be followed by 'Bolt', a hatchback that will compete with the Swift. A revamped Nano, said to sport a small boot, is also in the works. Tata Motors posted its lowest market share in a decade, achieving a meagre 7.94% in FY14 in the passenger vehicles space, a drop of almost 8-9% from a peak of 17% a decade ago. The company ceded its No. 3 position in the passenger vehicles (cars plus utility vehicles) segment to rival Mahindra & Mahindra in the last financial year. Maruti Suzuki was in pole position followed by Hyundai, M&M and Honda. Mistry's intervention has helped "motivate, galvanise and recharge" the team and makes a huge difference, says Wagh. He adds that Mistry has been focusing on design changes that would make the product more aspirational. He has been also working closely on how to improve quality and perceptions of it. 
 
Read complete story at Economic Times.

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