Tata Motors was known for affordable, reliable, and innovative cars a few years ago. Now, the company has made an image for itself for being not-so-reliable, affordable, and innovative. Cars such as the Tata Zest, Bolt and the Aria are very good regarding technology used, but has failed miserably in the Indian market in spite of a lot of investment.
What is the reason?
One important reason is that Tata Motors is being beaten at its own game. Tata Motors introduced most of the cars. But, what happened then?
For example, the Tata Nano. Tata Motors wanted to give the world a cheap, low budget car. This very good idea, however, backfired and created an image in many customer minds that "if I buy a Nano, people will think I'm driving a cheap car".
However, Renault, on the other hand, decided to take the same route with the Kwid—a low-cost car for India. The Kwid, immediately became an instant success.
Another example is the Indigo, which was launched in India back in 2002. The Indigo was India's first sub-compact sedan, which is now a booming market. Again, Tata was beaten by Maruti Suzuki, after the Indo-Japanese carmaker launched the Swift Dzire, which is the second best selling car in India at the moment.
Even an entirely new product like the Tata Zest, with an Automated Manual Gearbox (AMT) failed. At present, the Zest is not registering sales as expected, in spite of a turbocharged petrol and diesel engine.
Sport utility vehicle (SUV) are big sellers in India and the Tata Safari was the first SUV that was offered in India with a bit of luxury in mind. The Safari received mixed attention, until many realised, that the Safari was the only SUV that offered comfort, luxury, and decent off road capabilities. Mahindra managed to snatch that title away after launching the Scorpio, which is currently one of the best selling SUVs in India. The Scorpio was way more rugged and reliable when compared to the Safari.
The Tata Sumo too dominated the rugged SUV market, yet again, Mahindra beat Tata Motors with the Bolero. The Aria was a good attempt by Tata to offer a good crossover/ MPV, but that too failed, since the Aria was priced too much for a Tata product and that's the same case with the Xenon (pickup truck)
Why is Tata Motors Being Beaten In Its Own Game?
Tata Motors as a brand has lost its value over the years. The Zest and the Bolt look very much like the Indigo and Indica, with a facelift. The cars lack the desire quotient. Also, quality plays a big role and so does the ageing of the cars. Tata models haven't aged quite well, making it look outdated in a couple of years.
The Safari Storme looks like a copy of the Land Rover in terms of its overall design and the Nano has failed again, in spite of marketing the car as a regular hatchback and offering an AMT. Engines are noisy and build quality is questionable. One important aspect that could change Tata Motors' sales and value in India is a completely refreshed design.
The design is what is making other car brands beat the company at its own game. Is it time for Tata Motors to sell their passenger cars under a new brand identity. Will this help? Just a thought . . .