Guenter Butschek is the CEO and Managing Director of Tata Motors Limited. He heads the operations of Tata Motors in India as well as other international markets. Butschek is in Kathmandu to inaugurate a three-day Global Service Camp of Tata Motors in Kathmandu. The camp is being held at the service center of Sipradi Trading - the authorized distributors of Tata in Nepal -- in Kathmandu. Kushal Basnet of Republica talked with Butschek to know about Tata Motors Limited and the automakers future plans for Nepal. Excerpts:
As the CEO of Tata Motors Limited, how do you see the Nepali market for Tata products?
We have been experiencing a very strong partnership with Sipradi Trading for over 35 years. Nepal has always been a priority market for Tata Motors and the country deserves a quite good attention from our sides. We have seen a drop in the market size in Nepal in recent years and the competition has significantly increased over the last twelve to eighteen months. But the good news is that despite the drop, we have effectively been able to maintain and even grow our market shares in certain segments. We honor the Nepali customers for their strong loyalty over the years.
What is your strategy to increase market shares in Nepal?
First of all, we are pretty sure that the recovery is going to come soon and will be strong and more sustainable. This is because we are having very strong discussions with the local partner, Sipradi, for the launch of new products. We have invested a lot in the last couple of years in new products. Nepali market is ever evolving. I am convinced that whatever the change of the customer demand is going to be, we have the right solution for our customers.
In what ways have your initiatives like Global Service Camp helped businesses in Nepal?
There is a saying in vehicles industry that the sales experience is often a once in lifetime event, but the after-sales service experience is much more frequent. Global Service Camp is actually a preparation for the next sales experience. People say sales drive after-sales. But in our view, after-sales drive sales. Global Service Camp is the result of our strong commitments to our customers in the service of the vehicles in the hands of our customers. It has contributed to enhancing service quality worldwide which is important particularly for a country like Nepal where there are lots of remote areas causing damages to the vehicles. We have also taken initiatives like mobile service vans, and we have given a commitment that if something happens in operations of our vehicles, we reach to customers to fix it within four hours.
How is the Nepali vehicle market different than India?
In use case, Nepali market is not much different than the Indian market. India itself is not homogenous market and contains almost all of the demands of the international market. But this does not mean that what sells good in India, will sell good in Nepal too. That is the reason why we are focusing on our interaction with our customers and distributors locally in order to make sure about the applications and adjustments we need to make to fit the market. We have an outstanding relation with Sipradi and together we are working our best to make our India-engineered vehicles meet the requirements of the Nepali market.
What are your expectations from 'Magna' bus?
We have great expectations from Magna on the basis of our experiences in other countries with similar kind of use case and conditions like Nepal. We are confident in terms of reliability of Magna, its power drain solution, the safety features and even on its comfort and convenience. If there is going to be one comfortable bus transport opportunity in Nepal in near future, it is Magna. I am convinced that Magna is going to see a huge success in the Nepali market.
How has been your relationship with Sipradi?
Outstanding! A very intimate friendship, more than a partnership, has developed between Tata Motors and Sipradi over the last 35 years. Success of Tata in Nepal would not have been possible without Sipradi. The success is due to joint efforts of Tata Motors and Sipradi Trading. So, I cannot think of any better partner.
Do you have any plan of setting up vehicle assembling plant here in Nepal?
It's not that we want our vehicles to be more expensive. We want to make them more effective and affordable for our customers. Talking about plants, we always have two issues. The one is the overall volume and the other is volume of each product within the whole volume. Nepal is one of the markets where we do have a good overall volume, but the volumes of individual products in demand differ a lot. We are not saying that we will never ever set up a plant here, but if we come to Nepal, it needs to be justified by a business case, by sufficient volume of at least one product.
What do you have to say about Tata Motor's position in the passenger vehicles' market in Nepal?
Our passenger products like Tiago have seen a huge success in the Nepali market. We have about 10 percent of market shares regarding passenger vehicles, while the largest players in the market have about 20 to 23 percent. Tata Motors is planning to increase the market shares in the passenger vehicles segment. There is a shift in customer demands and aspirations, and we are working on bringing vehicles to people based on the shift. We are the only Indian car manufacturer in the last 18 months that has successfully launched four new brands to the Indian market. We are launching our new car 'Nexon' in Nepal very soon. We see a lot of possibilities in passenger vehicles market in Nepal.