The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Telco set to go into a rollout overdrive

New Delhi, Oct 8: When every other automaker is waiting for the recession to blow over, the Tatas are going into a rollout overdrive with a slew of launches in the passenger vehicle category designed to ratchet up sales to 1 lakh vehicles this year.

Tata Engineering will kick off the process with the Indigo—its mid-sized sedan—later this month. It then plans to add some power and pizzazz to its lifestyle product, the Safari, tweak the Indica into a sporty version, and then try its hand at an estate version of the Indigo. In between, they will be gee-ing up the old war-horse, the Sumo.

It’s going to be a power-packed six months for the Tatas. “We want to establish Telco as a reliable passenger vehicle manufacturer in every category. Last year due to terrorist attacks, the best months for car sales saw a very bad response. This year, the best sales have happened in September pushing overall passenger vehicle sales (including MUVs, jeeps and Omnis) to 3.5 per cent growth. We feel that the second half will be more eventful and have made plans accordingly,” said Rajiv Dubey, Telco’s vice-president, commercial, passenger car business unit.

The Indigo will be launched in October, while the high-end Safari is being prepared for launch in November. The Safari will now have a laptop nozzle, built-in video screens and automatic disc players. It will then go for a makeover under the hood when Telco plans to fit it with a 2-litre, 4-valve petrol engine that churns out 135 bhp of power.

The Indigo, which is expected to notch up sales of 1,000 a month, will have diesel and petrol engine options. A new 60 bhp petrol engine will power the Indica Sport. Tata’s utility vehicle Sumo EX+, which was launched today, has twin AC, audio warnings for door and seat belt, key less entry and mobile phone charger along with broader tyres. The five-seater Sumo has a Rs 5.95-lakh price tag.

“The EX+ is targeted at the personal vehicle category where people enjoy the driving experience. It bridges the gap between the Sumo and the Safari. But people sometimes do not want the fly-seats at the back and want more leg space in the middle row where probably a folding table can be offered for an impromptu meeting. We have plans to address this niche segment of customers. Very soon there will be a 5-seater Sumo designed for these needs,” Dubey said.

The Tatas have decided to put on hold the launch of the Magma—the D segment vehicle that would have taken on the Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord. The Toyota Camry will debut later this year.

“The D-segment is a narrow market with four players fighting for space. This is not the time to add on to the existing products. So, Magna plans are being put on hold. But it will be launched in future,” Dubey said.

Telco today reported a 15 per cent growth in passenger vehicle business vis-a-vis the 3.5 per cent growth in April-September. The first six months saw a 27 per cent increase in Indica sales. In the utility vehicles, however, Telco has seen a marginal growth of 1 per cent and maintained the market share at 23 per cent.

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