The Bolt is a Revolt against Tata’s outdated brand
India’s top automotive money maker, Tata Motors, is ready to get loose and target the fun crowd with its new Bolt hatchback. Known more as supplier of taxi’s and producer of what once was touted the cheapest car in the world, the Nano, Tata is looking to shed its jaded image to appeal to younger customers.
Tata has recently undergone a massive recruitment drive of more than 1,200 people across its dealerships in India to push the sale of the Bolt to a target group that is different from what it is accustomed to. Selling cars to fleet taxi operators is vastly different from convincing individuals and families to buy your cars, and Tata has recruited Mayank Pareek, formerly of Maruti Suzuki, to oversee Tata’s passenger vehicles division. While Tata commands the top spot in India for sales revenue, Maruti is the top-selling automaker by volume. Mayank is expected to help Tata to regain the significant market share it has lost; the company experienced a 37% year-on-year drop in sales in the last June quarter.
While Tata Motors has been leaning on its lucrative luxury car division, Jaguar Land Rover, to sustain the business, its domestic market share has shrunk to 6%. In a bid to revive its brand in India, Tata launched a compact sedan, the Zest, last August; its first car in four years. So far, it has sold 15,000 units of the Zest, and mostly to buyers aged 35 and under. In an interview with Reuters, Pareek said, “This profile of customers made us redefine how we should sell to these people.”
Now, just six months later, the company has launched the Bolt simultaneously in 100 cities, and organised events ahead of the launch, or what Pareek calls ‘on-ground activation’ in nine cities, a move that is atypical of Tata, but is more reminiscent of Maruki’s style, which tends to stock dealerships in advance and launch models concurrently. Well, the new strategy seems to be working, if you believe Pareek, who shared that close to 33,000 interested buyers have registered before the launch, adding that he hopes at least 40% of these will be converted into actual purchases.
At a starting price of 444,993 rupees (or US$7,225), the Bolt is positioned in the same competitive and popular market as the Maruti Suzuki Ritz, Honda Motors Brio, Volkwagen Polo and Hyundai i20 – all worthy competitors. The Bolt has diesel and petrol options – a 90PS, 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol motor or a 75PS, 1.3-litre diesel engine – mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox; there will be no automatic transmission for now.
Tata Motors’ aggressive plans will continue until 2020; in every year up until then, the company will add two car models to its stable.