The next international stop for automobile giant Tata Motors is Indonesia where it plans to soon start assembly of the successful Ace range of light commercial vehicles.
“We are looking at Indonesia quite seriously which, in several ways, is a replica of the Indian market,” P. M. Telang, Managing Director (India Operations), Tata Motors, told The Hindu in an interview in Mumbai last week.
Asked if it will be a full scale manufacturing venture or only an assembly plant, Mr. Telang said: “It is always step-by-step. Assembly is the first step and we do see local content ratio rising rapidly as ASEAN has good amount of component infrastructure. So, we see good possibilities of growth.”
While confirming that the plan was in the near-term horizon, Mr. Telang refused to say which of the vehicles from Tata Motors' stable will be assembled in Indonesia.
A top official of the company, however, said that the Ace will be the first model that the company would assemble in the Southeast Asian country. “This will be followed by passenger vehicles,” the official said. The knocked down kits of Ace meant for assembly in Indonesia will be supplied from India. Tata Motors launched the Ace branded as “Ace Super City Giant” in Thailand in November 2010. It has an assembly plant in Bangkok as a joint venture with the Thonburi Group which assembles pick-up trucks for the Thai market.
Asked about the debate over diesel cars and the government toying with the idea of imposing an extra tax on such cars, Mr. Telang said: “Diesel cars are 25-30 per cent more fuel-efficient than petrol cars. When you are looking at the rising energy bill of the country, diesel cars make eminent sense.” He pointed to a study done by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) which showed that private diesel use is less than 1 per cent of the total consumption of diesel in the country. “I think the issue is being blown out of proportion,” he said.