Tata Motors' export drive

KUALA LUMPUR SEPT. 6. Tata Motors today said its first Indica model cars will reach Britain later this month, providing a major thrust in the drive by India's leading automaker to boost exports, and announced plans for expanding its operations in Malaysia which will be a launching pad for its penetration of the ASEAN market.

Announcing the company's Malaysia plans Ravi Kant, Executive Director (Commercial Vehicles Business Unit), Tata Motors, told reporters at the KL International Motor Show that besides an increase in sales in existing product segments in Malaysia, Tata's immediate targets include sale of pick-up trucks and sports utility vehicle Safari and launch of Indica and Indigo in about a year.

"At present, our main thrust is going to be on pick-up trucks followed by Safari and passenger cars. That is the progression we are going to have in Malaysia," Mr. Kant said.

The company aims to sell about 2000 units in Malaysia in a year. But that pales by the side of the one lakh hatchback Indica models which Tatas had agreed to supply to the U.K.-based MG Rover over the next four years.

The auto company now gets only about 8 per cent revenue from exports. "But it should increase substantially because we recently tied up with Rovers of the U.K. to supply them over 100,000 cars over the next four years. In fact the first batch will start in September and the vehicle will be launched in a couple of months there," said Mr. Kant.

Mr. Kant also announced plans to launch its passenger cars in the Malaysian market, where its commercial vehicles have already made an impact. "With our better comfort, better safety and better value we expect to significantly increase our international presence," he said.

Malaysia is one of a dozen countries chosen by Tatas to drive its international business. "We are coming back here with a renewed sense of confidence," said Mr. Kant, adding Malaysia could be a hub to push products in the ASEAN region, a grouping of 10 countries offers a huge single market.

"We already have an assembling unit here which can be used to cater to the countries in the region," he said, adding that at present the facility could roll out around 1000 units a year and this could be easily doubled later.

The Tatas have been selling commercial vehicles such as medium and heavy trucks and buses in Malaysia through a local distributor, Scott & English (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, part of diversified DRB-Hicom group, for about a decade. "The move into more consumer oriented products such as pick-up trucks and cars will increase our visibility in the market," Mr. Kant said. — PTI

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