This thread is of great interest to me, to see views of both Tata users and others too.
The answer for your question lies in the usage, maintenance of the car & Service center/spares support and little on the car maker himself. I am giving a small comparison between Maruti & Tata, just for reference, no offence to anyone.
The situation TATA's have landed in,
1. For some very strong reasons, TATA cars have always been the favorite for cabies.
2. These cabs are abused to the core, by different drivers and not usually serviced at TASS.
3. We see more commercial cars having breakdown, than white board ones. For a very obvious reason, high usage in a short time. Some numbers now:
My office cabs usually Indica's do 5 trips (to&fro) in a 24hr span everyday, 7days a week. Each trip is about 10kms to 60kms in distance, hence they easily travel 300kms in a day, mostly within city and in off peak hours (bpo).
Most cabbies use the normal Indica's with no turbo charger and ac hardly used. They service their cars, once in a month regardless of how many kms they clock. Here starts the issue, ideally for their kind of abusive driving style, alignment needs to be done once every 15days, which they dont do at all (till significant steering issues pop up). Oil used is a normal mineral oil, which loses all its quality within 5k kms of usage, where as these guys punch all the way till 9000kms before they change engine oil. The cab agencies offer free engine oil, oil filter every month to the cabs they attach to these BPO's hence the driver waits for the free oil, not ready to spend from his pocket.
So this is what happens with cabs
1. High kms between oil changes
2. No regular wheel aignment/balancies
3. No TASS service, only local mechanics work on these.
4. Brake pads wont be checked till they make screeching noises
5. Rear dampers die out within first 6 months, they dont change it, as no one complains about it. Bouncy ride is part of cab business.
6. Due to ill service schedules, too many of them have breakdowns, spoiling the brand image in public.
Now when you see such horribly maintained cabs day-in & day-out almost everyone starts to think that TATA cars are not reliable. The fact is TATA cars are reliable, their service is what sucks big time.
I have spend close to 1lakh on my previous 2 Maruti 800 restorations, I never struggled to get any part, reason being MGP supplies almost everything and you have multiple outlets too.
I am trying to get the plastic cladding for my nano (front seat ones) for the last 20days, no place to find it. The people working at these outlets (Prerana Spares Depot on mysore road) are not interested to listen to you. Just because you are asking some rare item.
The TASS on the other hand has this strange behaviour.
My Issue: The ac coil/heater element one of the two is leaking and making a mess of the carpet. I called twice to AAdya Motors near my home, they dont have service appointments for next 2days as they are over booked + no cars are taken for service after 11am, as they have parking issue. No technician/Service advisor free to talk to you over phone to even get a basic idea of what would it cost to get the issue resolved.
No glovebox available, they wont give you the speaker mounting spacers (plastic ones) unless you buy the speaker itself from them, even though I mentioned that I already have speakers. They dont sell parts over the counter, they dont even have stock of Nano foot mats, battery clamp, fender indicators! Getting a half engine from TATA (like MGP) will only be a dream, if need be. 1. Will I ever buy a TATA again! HELL NO! 2. Are Tata cars reliable on the long run - YES THEY DEFINATELY ARE,
but most owners dont retain the car for that long, as they dont get good support like Maruti.
3. Ideal way of using TATA cars - BUY THEM, DRIVE MAX KMS in a short span and sell them. Dont even dream about owning a TATA for 20yrs, this is not a Maruti 800/zen/esteem.
4. Most maruti's are parked outside home, or are driven very little (less than 5000kms) in a month and are serviced twice a year. Hence people own it for a longer time and less kms used. So anyday a 10yr old maruti looks better than a 5yr old TATA.
5. Tata Cars are made out of thicker sheet metal, stronger welds, you can feel it everywhere in the car. I feel they are safer too, from build quality point of view.
6. Probably the most abuse friendly cars to be seen on Indian roads.
7. I have travelled in so many indica's (office cab) which are only 3 - 5yrs old but have clocked close to 3+lakh kms. I doubt if a similar swift desire/swift/i10/i20 would hold everything in place after 2lakh kms in such a short span.
8. At production stage - TATA guys lack serious Quality checks like Maruti, usually ill fit & finish, huge and uneven gaps in doors, trunk etc is a signature of TATA build. They might pass it on, saying in the event of a crash the doors still work/dont get jammed. In short - High usage short term - Tata is the best
Less usage long term ownership experience - Maruti/Hyundai/Honda etc Tata Spares - Cheap, but availability is not assured, neither is the ETA
Ford Spares - Costly, but available on order
Maruti Spares - Okayish pricing, 100% availability across country
and for most cars including for ones, out of production. If your questions changes to-
1. Will you own a TATA car for a decade - NO
, not a wise thing to do.
2. Can you own Zest for 5years? - Yes.
3. Can you drive a lakh kms within a year? - 100% (I have seen plenty of them)
4. If I am going to drive less and want to own it for a longer term - Yeah probably you can for 5-6yrs after that you have long wait times for spares/have a very trust worthy TASS. If not take a huge loss and sell it for dirt price. 5. Spare parts quality are anyday lesser (inferior) than a competing Maruti/Hyundai product - but so is the price too. You get what you pay for.