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IN CONVERSATION| SUJAN ROY: TATA MOTORS

On the eve of the launch of the much-awaited Tata Nexon, we had a chance to have a chat with Mr. Sujan Roy. Here, we can get some insights from him regarding the Nexon and what the future holds for Tata.

WHAT WERE THE CONSUMER INSIGHTS BEFORE DESIGNING THE NEW NEXON?

Firstly, it doesn’t matter if you have a small budget or a big budget, people want a stylish, feature loaded car which is economically cheap to buy, maintain and own with good fuel efficiency and one that can go over rough-roads and terrains. We have seen that people when asked what type of vehicle you want regardless of budget? They will usually say that they want a European SUV. We can see that trend in India and we see that trend in Nepal too. But our budget is such that, only a few people can afford a European SUV whether it’s a top-end German brand or one of our own brands like Jaguar and Land Rover. So, we thought, “Wait a minute, this dream is with everybody, let us take the aspirations of our customers and help them attain it within a budget.” Taking these insights into consideration we developed a vehicle that suited the environment of the sub-continent but had European styling. And we created the Nexon, a compact SUV that is styled in Italy, engineered in UK and manufactured in India.

ANY LESSONS OR LEARNINGS THAT YOU INCORPORATED FROM THE RECENT LINEUP OF YOUR VEHICLES?

From the very beginning with the Bolt and Zest, we have always tried to incorporate some amount of European styling which was slightly contemporary. But what we saw is that the customers wanted it to be much more European, they wanted something that would be cutting-edge even on the streets of Milan, the fashion capital of the world. That is why we got our Italian designers to develop something which is cutting-edge, which if I drove into a European club today, people would say “Oh! That’s a nice car”. Second thing that we learned is that people want a same particular vehicle to perform different roles. Sometimes when they are on an empty road or in the middle of the night, when they can drive very fast they want their car to be a sports car, sometimes they are within the city and they need to drive in a normal pace and want to be economical, they want to watch their budget and want to consume less fuel, so the same car they want to perform different roles which is why we have introduced, from the Zest onwards, multiple driving modes. So, you can select the mode that you want and it can either be a sports car or an economical car which it is great to drive in the city. Lastly the third thing that we learned is that people want cutting-edge features in terms of infotainment technology. They look at the best European cars, and their infotainment technology and say “Hey! I want that in my car, it’s okay that my budget is small but I want it”, and that is why when you look into the NEXON you’ll see a Harman Kardon designed infotainment system, which is absolutely cutting-edge. The interior of the NEXON, feels very European, very stylish and very NEXT-GEN. Even three years, four years from now, when you look at the NEXON you will still feel like it’s a new car.

HOW WILL THE NEXON BE POSITIONED IN YOUR PORTFOLIO OF VEHICLES?

In our portfolio of the new generation of vehicles that we sell in Nepal, TATA Motors’ entry level is the Tiago. It’s for the young people who have a modest budget and for people who need an economical but spacious car. On top of that we have the Bolt, then we have the Tigor, and the Zest which are both sedans. The Nexon is positioned on top of the Zest and it is meant to be a younger alternative to the Zest. It is much sportier and it is meant for younger customers, who have a little more budget that can afford more than the Tiago but are of the same profile in terms of age and outlook. It’s even quite possible that they are over forty-five but keep themselves fit and dress stylishly. These are people who are young at heart, for such people the Nexon is a perfect vehicle, and for a twenty-year old, who has got the resources, whose dad is a generous man and willing to give the money, the Nexon is a perfect fit. One level above the Nexon, we have the big SUVs like the Safari Storme and Hexa. Also we have future models that we have showcased at the Indian Auto EXPO 2018, which will come into that space.

AS YOU KNOW THE COMPACT SUV SEGMENT IS QUITE CROWDED RIGHT NOW, HOW DO YOU THINK THE NEXON WILL PERFORM?

The people who worry about the crowding are the people who come with “me too” products. If you look at our competitors, it is very difficult to distinguish one SUV from the other. But I can guarantee you this, whenever you see a Nexon on the street, you will turn and look at it because it will be totally different from any other car and that is the biggest strength of the Nexon. It stands out from the rest and it has a certain road presence to it. We often notice that we go to a party and there are hundreds of people there, but we can almost always notice this one man or one lady who stands out from the rest, that person need not be very tall, or very outspoken, or be very well dressed. But you look at that person in the crowd and say “This person looks very different, looks of a different level” and that is what we define as level NEX. Nexon is level NEX, whenever you see the car, in a crowded street of Kathmandu, wherever you see a Nexon you’ll always be able to point out and you’ll say “Sujan had told me that level NEX will stand out”.

LASTLY TALKING ABOUT NUMBERS, ARE THERE ANY FORECASTS FOR THE NEXON?

Of course we have a forecast. Right now, we have over 180 bookings in our hands but please understand that the Nexon is a car which is in very high demand in every market that we have launched it in. We have sold nearly 20,000 cars in India within 4 months of its launch. There is a huge waiting list so even though we would love to sell larger numbers in Nepal, we are held back by the shortage of more units. We should be able to do 50-80 units firstly, that’s what we are hoping and we are sure we can do more. We are certain that the demand will be grow but at the moment, unfortunately, we are constrained by the availability of the cars.

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