Tata Motors South Africa (SA) must grow its position in the South African truck market from the current number eight to number three, says Tata International distribution vertical executive director and head Len Brand.
“We must be bigger. We need double digit market share and we want this in the next four years.
“A lot of work has to be done, especially in terms of uptime. We must become a trusted brand. This is, short and sweet, what we are chasing.”
Brand adds that the footprint of Tata truck dealerships need to “improve dramatically”.
“We need more dealers and we need better quality dealers. The majority are not at the level we want them to be.”
Officially, there are 34 dealers selling Tata commercial vehicles in South Africa, with only 18 “a relatively steady presence”, says Brand.
“We want 45 dealers.”
Tata sold just more than 900 trucks in South Africa in 2016, with the aim to move to around 1 500 units this year, says Brand.
Market share in the medium commercial vehicle (MCV) segment has fallen from 9.1% in 2013/14 to 6.2% this year. Heavy commercial vehicle (HCV) market share has dropped from 9.7% to 7.2% in the same time frame.
Tata Motors SA assembles trucks in South Africa, at its plant is Rosslyn, near Pretoria. The plant has a yearly capacity of around 2 000 units.
It is hoped that the newly launched Tata Ultra truck will add to sales volumes in the MCV and HCV segments.
Ultra refers not to a specific truck, but to a vehicle platform, on which 605 unique vehicle variants can be build.
The Ultra models unveiled at FutuRoad 2018, held in Johannesburg in September, included a 4.5 t payload vehicle, as well as a 5.5 t and 7 t payload vehicle.
Assembly of the Ultra range will start in Rosslyn in the next “three to four months”, says Tata Motors international business commercial vehicles VP Rudrarup Maitra.
“This is just the beginning of the Ultra platform. There are lots of exciting things still to come.”
Maitra says Tata Motors SA only recently entered the local extra-heavy commercial vehicle (EHCV) market, with the launch of the Prima range in 2014.
“It will take ten years plus to gain ground in this segment.”
Tata will boost the Prima range with new product introductions each year, most notably a mid-400 hp variant in the “next two to three years, which should give us a more well-rounded product portfolio in South Africa”.
Tata Motors SA may also look to the Tata-owned Daewoo truck brand to boost its local presence.