Tata Motors small car on track

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Mumbai
  • Published 23.01.07
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Mumbai, Jan. 23: Tata Motors — which has just started construction work at its 990-acre factory site at Singur — says it is on course to roll out its small car in 2008 as scheduled.

The carmaker hopes to crunch its deadlines and ride over the humps that have been created by the delay over land acquisition after Mamata Banerjee’s vitriolic protest against the project.

“The materials will soon start flowing in. We want to have the factory as early as possible. It is challenging; we have to see how best to make up for lost time. Though the degree of challenge has increased quite substantially, the organisation is gearing up to overcome it,” managing director Ravi Kant said here this evening after the company announced its third-quarter results.

The company has started prototype testing of its small car. The design and styling of the car have already been finalised. Technology for the proposed small car has been “frozen”. Tata Motors has also placed orders for equipment required for the project.

Kant said 400 people have started working at the project site. Of this, 250 are from Singur while the others have been inducted from “outside”.

Close to 70 vendors will be supplying to the project. Many of them will be setting up units in Singur adjoining the plant.

The Tata Motors managing director also revealed that Fiat Auto had evinced interest in collaborating with it on the small car project. Although the Tatas have “accepted the offer’’, Kant hinted that the scope for the Italian company’s involvement is limited as technology, design and styling for the vehicle have been finalised. Company sources added that the priority of Tata Motors would be to produce and market the small car here in India.

Earlier in the day, the company announced a better-than-expected 12 per cent growth in net profit for the third quarter of the year ended December 31, 2006 on a standalone basis. Net profit jumped to Rs 513.17 crore from Rs 460.23 crore for the corresponding period last year. There were many factors that contributed to this jump. Apart from a good performance from its various businesses, foreign exchange gains also aided the company. Tata Motors had currency gains of Rs 132 crore in the quarter.

Praveen Kadle, director, finance, Tata Motors, said another highlight of the quarter was that the company had maintained its margins and improved market share in commercial vehicles even though raw material costs had risen.

The company maintained its margins and improved market share in commercial vehicles. Overseas markets now contribute close to 16 per cent of the company’s revenues.

The company’s revenue for the quarter on a standalone basis (net of excise) was Rs 6,956.84 crore, an increase of 37 per cent compared with Rs 5,074.86 crore in the corresponding quarter of 2005-06. The consolidated revenue (net of excise) was Rs 8,176.03 crore for the quarter, an increase of 37 per cent, compared with Rs 5,969.78 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.