Tata Motors Looks at a ‘New Beginning’

Tata Motors hopes the Zica to open a “new phase” for the company and take it back to the centre of the Indian car market.

The Zica -a compact hatchback that will compete with Maruti Suzuki’s Wagon R and Celerio, and Hyundai’s Grand i10 in a segment that sells 40,000 to 45,000 cars a month -is the first all-new model from Tata Motors since the Nano.

The company unveiled the car to the media last week and is expected to start selling it from January.It is expected to be priced between . 3.59 lakh and ` ` . 5.59 lakh, and is aimed at first-time car buyers. India’s largest automotive manufacturer by revenue plans to lavish features that don’t usually come in the affordable hatchback segment to entice buyers, who have looked elsewhere while choosing cars.

Built on an all-new platform, Zica has been designed and developed after taking inputs from close to 1,000 prospective buyers. More than 200 engineers started work on the project 36 months ago and the car is developed under Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover-inspired new product introduction process.

“Zica is a fresh start for us, a new beginning,” said Mayank Pareek, president of passenger vehicle division at Tata Motors. “I am quite confident that the market will respond favourably as it is the bestlooking car, which delivers on style, performance and value.”

Company executives said the Zica was aimed at the youth and part of Tata Motors’ aim to make `cool cars’ -offering desirable vehicles which are dependable and sturdy.

Hormazd Sorabjee, editor at the Autocar India magazine, said Tata Motors has put its heart and soul into the Zica. “The product scores well. The bigger challenge however lies in the brand -which is far from aspirational,” he said. “Zica definitely feels a class bigger than the competition; the only weakness is the engines. It is Tata Motors’ best shot yet, but it will still be a challenge to bring in large numbers.”

Tata Motors has positioned the product in a segment which is far less crowded than the premium hatchback space. Unlike the Bolt, which has almost a dozen competitors, Zica’s space a notch below has only three-four competitors, which means its chance for success is more. “Therefore, we have put our best foot forward in this segment,” said Girish Wagh, head of product planning and programme management.

The Zica comes with two all-new engines -a three-cylinder 1.2litre all-aluminum petrol engine which is estimated to deliver 1820 kms to a litre and a 1-litre diesel engine offering 25 kmpl. The car will be produced at the company’s Nano plant in Sanand.

The company is bringing the product after the Zest sedan and Bolt hatchback brought it back to the consideration set of car buyers.However, those models haven’t de livered, with sales falling 50-80% short of the firm’s expectations. Pareek said the Zest and Bolt should be seen as bridge products at best and that they played their role offering something fresh to a jaded portfolio.

Apart from the product, Pareek said, the Zica is said, the Zica is backed by an overhauled ecosystem which delivers on cost, quality, network, sales experience and, now, strong branding with footballer Lionel Messi as the company’s brand ambassador.

While the Zest and Bolt haven’t delivered the desired numbers, they have still helped Tata Motors grow faster than the market since April , at 10% to 88,321 units. The growth though comes on a low base, because its sales had tanked in recent years.

With the Zica and two new products planned every year, the company expects the volume to pick up fast from here. “We want to be in the top three brands,” said Pareek. “We aim to have multiple products in the same segment and there are a lot of white spaces we will fill in the coming years.”

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