Tata Motors eyes lost ground, brings back Safari to push SUV sales | Business Standard News

Clipped from: https://www.business-standard.com/article/automobile/tata-motors-to-up-the-ante-in-the-suv-market-with-two-new-vehicles-121010601306_1.html

The Mumbai-based firm will launch the new Safari next month followed by the Hornbill next fiscal

Tata Motors is looking to hitch a ride on the burgeoning SUV demand to claw back its share in a segment in which it once held pole position. The maker of Nexon and Harrier models is gearing up to step up its presence in the segment with launch of new age, contemporary models that resonate with the buyers. By end of next fiscal the Tata Group flagship will have four SUVs in its armor as it stakes its claim in an intensely competitive passenger vehicle market, said company’s top official.

On Wednesday, the company said it plans to brand the upcoming seven-seater SUV, codenamed Gravitas, as Safari. In its new avatar, the Safari which ruled the Indian roads for two decades, is hoping to draw in contemporary SUV buyers who are looking for a vehicle that can match their multifaceted lifestyle, the company said. Tata Motors will commence bookings for the top-of-the-range model that will be positioned as a lifestyle SUV above the Harrier, later this month. The model will go on sale next month.

To be pitted against the Mahindra XUV 500 and MG Hector Plus, among others, the model is expected to be priced anywhere between Rs1400,000 to Rs1800,000. Tata’s 7-seater made its global debut at the Geneva motor show in 2019 as the Buzzard, and then showcased at the Auto Expo 2020 as the Gravitas. It was originally conceived as the new Safari says Vivek Srivatsa, head-marketing at Tata Motors. The Safari will be followed by the Hornbill, a micro SUV that is expected to be launched sometime next fiscal.

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A strong preference for personal mobility and growing traction for drive-able destinations have added heft to SUV sales amid the pandemic and Tata Motors wants to make the most of it, says Srivastava. One out of every three PVs sold in India in the last eight months was an SUV, he said.

“The (new) Safari will target the socially active, adventure and experience seeking buyers,” he says. Post Covid there is a surge in such buyers as holidayers prefer destinations they can drive down to in their own vehicles with families and friends, says Srivastava. The fully packed parking lots at resorts and hotels of weekend getaways like Mahabaleshwar, Lonavala, Manali to name a few is a good anecdotal evidence of the preference for personal vehicles, he points.

Company’s confidence also stems from the strong uptrend Tata Motors saw in 2020—a year which saw most of the other carmakers struggling to protect their turf. In the first eight months of the current fiscal Tata Motors sold 51000 SUVs (includes Nexon, Harrier and Hexa) as against a total of 59000 units it sold in the entire fiscal 2019-2020 and will easily be able to surpass last year’s sales by the turn of the fiscal, says a confident Srivastava. The brisk growth in volumes helped the firm inch up its share in the SUV segment to 9.4 per cent (April to December) from 8.2 per cent a year ago. With two more models added, it expects volumes to grow at an accelerated pace. “We will have the most expansive SUV range in the market very soon,” he added.

Extending the growth trend of the previous months, utility vehicle sales advanced by 17.2 per cent year-on-year to 103,525 units in November, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. It was driven largely by the Hyundai Kia combine, Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra and Mahindra. This was even as passenger car sales fell 2.77 per cent from a year earlier to 149,949 units in November.

Gearing UP

. The new Safari to go on sale next month

. The 7-seater model will be positioned above the Harrier

. Expected to priced upwards of Rs14 lakh, to rival XUV500 and MG Hector Plus

. The Hornbill, a micro SUV will get added to the lineup in FY22

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