Tata Motors is setting up a commercial vehicle assembly unit in South Africa and this should be ready by the end of the current financial year.
“We will be looking at assembling medium-sized trucks and small trucks there,” said P. M. Telang, Managing Director (India operations), Tata Motors, adding that the initial capacity could be in the region of 3,000-4,000 units annually.
The facility, to come up at Johannesburg, could be scaled up later. Tata Motors at present exports 2,000-3,000 trucks annually to South Africa and also has truck assembly units in Thailand and Bangladesh.
It is looking at a 10-15 per cent rise in domestic truck sales in the current year, Ravi Pisharody, President, Commercial Vehicles-Tata Motors, said on the sidelines of a press conference to celebrate five years of its successful Ace mini truck.
The company is launching new variants of Ace to take on competition. The Tata Magic Iris which was exhibited at the New Delhi Auto Expo in January this year is now being test marketed in Rajasthan.
“It will have a national roll-out in September this year. An Ace in a lower payload and also a higher HP (horsepower) version are planned for launch later this year,” said Mr. Pisharody.
Mahindra & Mahindra last year entered the segment with Maxximo and multinational giants like GM, Daimler and Nissan-Ashok Leyland combine are to enter the segment later.
Tata Motors has sold more than 5 lakh vehicles built on the Ace platform since its launch in 2005. The vehicle is manufactured at the Pantnagar plant. In 2009-10, in the mini-trucks segment, the company has about 81 per cent market share and a 64 per cent share in the total commercial goods carrier volumes.
Starting with sales of about 30,000 units in 2005-06, it doubled to 70,000 units in 2006-07 and further to 89,000 in 2007-08.
Even in 2008-09, the year which was hardest hit by the downturn in the commercial vehicle industry, the Tata Ace sold more than 81,000 units. In 2009-10, sales crossed the one-lakh-mark touching 1.10 lakh units.
In June 2007, the company launched Tata Magic, developed on the Ace platform and this product too has seen strong demand in semi-urban and rural areas. In 2009-10, its sales touched close to 49,000 units, a growth of 70 per cent.