“If all goes well, we will be launching two new products this year”

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Johnny Oommen, Head, International Business Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors LtdJohnny Oommen
Head, International Business Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors Ltd

Sipradi, the sole distributor for Tata vehicles in Nepal, launched Tata Tigor amid a progamme in the capital on August 9. Johnny Oommen, Head of International Business Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, Tata Motors Ltd was in Nepal for the launch of the four-wheeler which has been classified by the company as a ‘Styleback’. New Business Age talked to Oommen about the newly launched car, its features and Nepali automobile market, among others. Excerpts:

Tell us about your visit to Nepal.
It is my first visit this year. I last visited Nepal in August 2016. I am very happy to be here because this is a very significant launch. It is a product concept which does not exist in the market. So, it is completely new in terms of styleback. Also, it is important for us because we have made three launches over the last couple of years. In 2015 we started with Zest, followed by Bolt and then Tiago and today, Tigor. In the span of two years, we launched four products which is a very aggressive approach. I can tell you that if all goes well, we will be launching two more products this year. So, we have a very ambitious plan for the market. We believe that for a relatively young passenger vehicle brand like Tata, for customers to accept us and make us their top choice when it comes to purchasing cars, it is important that we come up with such products which are truly exciting and cutting edge in terms of technology, design, comfort, convenience and features. That is what we are doing with every successful launch. So, we are really trying to bring in the products that in the long term can address segments across the Nepali market. 

What are the features of the newly launched Tata Tigor?
Tata Tigor is the second product from our passenger vehicle stable that is based on the impact design philosophy. Impact design is all about design that creates an impact on first sight and designs that leave a lasting impact. When you see the car, you are immediately impressed by it and stay on that the way we have designed. This is the second car after Tiago in the same series. If you look at its exterior features, it has all very cutting-edge. To add on this, there are comfort, convenience and connectivity features in this car which is not available at this price in any other car of this range in the market today. For people who want to make individual style statement and also get something that fulfills their needs, Tigor is the right choice.  

Are there any schemes for Tata Tigor?
We are offering introductory price on Tigor. On other products, we have attractive offers happening from time to time. And our partner Sipradi is quite constantly engaged in a lot of activities such as ‘Shikshya ko Lagi Test Drive’, we have car melas (fairs) happening all the time. We have auto shows that we have been participating in. There are lots of activities that are coming to the market.

How is your partnership with Sipradi?
Touchwood! Very strong! I think this year we will complete 35 years of partnership on overall basis, that is on both commercial and passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicles are more recent entry as we started our relation in 2000 and Sipradi is one of the best partners that we could have worked with given their very strong presence in the market, very strong brand acuity with Nepali customers and extremely strong distribution in the country. 

What makes Tata vehicles different from other vehicle brands?
We have tried to strengthen our presence in the hatchback and sedan segments that has seen almost immediate success. Thanks to Sipradi, one of our biggest strengths is the number of touch points that we have, 20 showrooms and 24 service points across the country catering to customers to all over Nepal with superlative sales and service experience and addressing segments across the spectra. We have Sumo, for people who need commuting solutions and we have very personal vehicles like Bolt, Zest, Tiago and Tigor. Our play in the long term is really going to be how we can address as many segments as possible across the Nepali market.

How do you observe the Nepali automobile market?
Today the automobile market is challenged because of certain factors which are out of our control such as the credit crunch. In general, I would say Nepal is a market where unfortunately customers have to pay much higher tax rates than most countries. It is a market that shares enclosed proximity to India. But we often have cases where customers look at Indian prices and ask why it is expensive in Nepal. The fact is, it is because of the tax. So, as manufacturers, we would obviously be hopeful that the tax regime becomes little easier so that customers don’t have to pay a fat amount while buying cars. And of course, for general business continuity approach, if the liquidity crisis and other constraints on customers do not happen too often, it will obviously be much better for business. Last year was a fabulous year for the market. We also did very well but this year we have been seeing a drop largely because of restrictions on finance. 

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