TATA Motors is one of the fastest growing car brands in Nepal. TATA Motors started commercial business in Nepal from 1982. Sipradi Trading Pvt Ltd (STPL) is the sole distributor of TATA Motors in Nepal.Sujeeta PradhanofRepublicatalked with Sujan Roy,Head of Passenger Vehicle International Businessat TATA Motors, on issues related to TATA's journey in Nepal. Roy has experience of 25 years in the field of automobiles. Excerpts:
What is the current situation of passenger vehicles in the Nepali market?
Nepali market is recovering. In the beginning of the year, the market actually shrank down due to economic factors that are not unique to Nepal. India also we have seen the same scene and in our other export markets where there is crisis. Nepal is recovering faster than other places and I hope this year we will be able to close same as previous years.
Does the Nepali market prefer passenger vehicle?
Nepali market is unique. People here, especially the younger generation, are more style conscious than the people in India. When I look at a young person the kind they dresses and choices they have with other accessories they carry and choice of cars it is far more advanced than in India. We found they are closer to the developed western market and which is why TATA Motors vehicles are always much more styled in European flavor. We feel that they have been accepted in Nepal market in fact it is very proud to know that TATA in Nepal ranks third position but in India we are lower in rank. TATA Motors' vehicles have been very accepted because of its styling.
What are TATA's focus areas on passenger vehicle?
The first focus of TATA Motors is to make TATA Motors affordable for everyone in all points and all subjects. We are bringing new models available at different size ranges in our number one focus. Our second focus area is to make TATA Motors available close to customers. We are opening a lot more service centers so that our customers can get all services without going any far and our more showrooms all across Nepal. The third focus is our launch of TATA Motors electric vehicles in Nepal as customers of Nepal is far more eco conscious and we see large number of electric vehicles being popular in Kathmandu so we would like to bring in electric vehicles as soon as possible in Nepal.
Are you people planning to launch something different and extra in electric vehicles?
The customer has a choice to get a car which runs with petrol or diesel so we want to offer the third popular model in Nepal i.e. electric vehicles. We have to understand that the world is going through tremendous crisis and in the Himalayas, the people of Nepal feel that impact far more. And they are concerned about it. We have to understand that Nepal has a wonderful resource – hydroelectricity – and it will be a crime not to use these resources from Nepal and instead import petrol or diesel from other countries. We believe that within few years, Nepal will use electric vehicles in large number and do not expect India to proceed towards electrification as fast as Nepal is going to. Nepalese customer is far more aware of ecological issues and Nepal is blessed with hydropower.
What is special about TATA vehicles that makes it different from vehicles of other brands?
Firstly, TATA vehicles are built safe, and safety is our number one priority. Our interior is far more spacious. When you sit inside TATA vehicles of the same category as a competitor vehicle you will find it more spacious and we ensure that our doors open wider which will be comfortable for elderly people and convenient for differently-abled people. Air conditioning is something that we pride ourselves in and is suitable for tarai region. Our vehicles are made for the road condition of India and Nepal which will make your every ride comfortable in difficult road condition.
Finance company has stopped providing sufficient loans for car is it affecting in business?
Yes and no, we have seen even in India finance companies have reduced the amount of loans that they are offering predominantly because of banking crisis around the world. In Nepal we have started approaching people who have old vehicles offering them very good prices range over to TATA so that instead of down payment old vehicles instead of becomes down payment and they are able to upgrade that's how we are able to maintain volume and continue to grow.
Do you consider anyone as your competitor?
Yes, in every segment we have competitors. We have very capable competitors and I must say that they are doing very good job in Nepal. It is our endeavor to prove to our Nepali customer that we are doing well and we will do our best to provide best service to our customer.
How is the situation of passenger vehicles different in Nepal compared to other countries?
Nepali customers are much more demanding in style. They want their car to be stylish. The second thing very important in Nepal is off-road ability. We know that our customers take their car where road condition is not good, so the ability to handle rough road is very important in Nepal. That is why we are including different ranges in Nepal with more ground clearance.