What’s Wrong with Tata Motors? An Open Letter To the MD


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I am an existing customer of TATA Motors with two cars from Tata stable and also hold a few shares of TML.
Working in Engineering industry with twenty years of experience in Global Sourcing, Materials Management, Sourcing for Engineering and Development, Production Planning, Logistics and other Supply Chain Management functions, Supply Quality Assurance and Management.

Views expressed in this article are my personal opinion and not that of 'The Automotive India'.


TATA Motors with its legacy, capabilities and backing of TATA Group should have been the number one.

http://www.theautomotiveindia.com/f...-tata-legacy-story-indian-mnc.html#post210445

Of course it is number one in commercial vehicles by a huge margin.

We are talking about passenger cars - Cars, SUVs, UVs.

There is no doubt about the top management calibre at TATA or TATA Motors.

Company is financially strong and has the means and resources.

Where it has gone wrong?

Dividing this into four sections for a better understanding.

1. Failure of Marketing, Product Management and PR

2. Lethargy and complacency of Sales team

3. Engineering and Development

4. Incompetent, undisciplined Dealers and TASS


1. Failure of Marketing, Product Management and PR

Just see an instance - launch of Storme; the most important launch in last two years:

This could be a case study subject for mangement students as a classic example of poor strategy or the lack of it, poor planning, poor execution and total failure of media and public relations mangement.

Storme as an SUV is of top class in its segment with top notch build quality, fit and finish and has excellent driving dynamics. The poor soul is pulling attraction, generating enquiries and good reviews all in by its own merrit and the nolstagic legacy of Safari.

What help it is getting from Marketing and Sales team?

Showroom personnel across the country remained clueless even after several days of launch.

Dealers, SEs, Potential Customers, Media, General public are all confused as they were before the launch.

The strategy ?!! before launch led to a flood of speculative scoops and rumours which were infact damaging the brand, ridiculing the product and this happened day in and day out for months together and TML acted like it is deaf, dumb and blind.

What was Product Management team doing with all those feedback they got after the expo?

Are they aware that young generation in their twenties are the biggest drivers for sales figure to move northward.

In most families, teenagers influence family buying decision.

What did TML marketing do to connect with these youngsters.

Launch event of Storme was uninspiring and totally disappointing.

Failure of strategy, lack of planning and execution coupled with PR blunders could be seen in several cases.

Another instance was during launch of flagship Aria:

Everything was fine other than some basics:

They made several mistakes in the process like inadequate PR work, not so proper communication and plain external styling which is almost dull from several angles and was looking much similar to Innova than a premium car.

Media gave an impression that TATA is launching Aria as a competition for Innova. TATA Motors never attempted to correct the perception and their media managers were caught sleeping in that project.

So everybody was of the expectation that an Innova competition from TATA Motors would be priced accordingly. Price announcement created shock and many potential buyers backed out instantly.

Damage has been already done, so all subsequent efforts were futile.

In the case of Aria, it was the so called "Taxi image" that they wanted to stay clear off and launch themselves into premium territory. In that process they managed to keep away private usage buyers also.

Injustice to Nano:

Nano was a brave new idea, an absolute innovation and a game changer in automobile industry.

PR and Media management lethargy did severe damage to Nano.

{Projecting Nano as a car for the poor is not an issue to be discussed here. That was a genuine mistake and such things can happen to any new campaign even if it is backed by a well planned strategy}

There are several other cases of inaction and lack of understanding -

There were all kinds of rumour and speculation about the materials used and the way Nano is assembled. This flood of nonsense information in main stream media led common man to form a negative image and perception about Nano.

Even during the launch day of Nano, some major news papers were carrying wrong information (with graphical representation) about Nano - parts are glued together, low on safety, use of plastic body and many such things and those wrong information spread through internet.

Media managers at TML never bothered to clear the air and put things in perspective.

They should have released right and relavant information systematically and created a positive environment before the launch.

Same is the case with Storme.

Its so blunt but cannot help asking;

What if there is no Marketing, Product Management and PR team in TML from tomorrow?

Full marks if the answer sounds something like "Nothing will change and its business as usual"


2. Lethargy and complacency of Sales team

What if there is no Sales team from tomorrow?

An apt answer is 'Sales won't get affected'.

Need to write several pages with examples and narration of our experience on various occations.

There are several customers who want to buy a TATA car and they do it despite the Sales team.

3. Engineering and Development

When TML decided to venture into cars, they did a good job of developing a world class Engineering and Development center. Taking the route of indegenious development rather than going for the easy way of technology transfer was commandable indeed.

It is easy to make reliable cars and engines with transferred technology. However, developing everything and mastering technology is a difficult and gigantic task. Engineering and Development team deserve a loud applause.

Acquring Engineering and Design expertise is a long term process.

Even after considering all these, we still have to say that Engineering and Development activity is disappointing.

One and a half decades and still they are not able to demonstrate a level that they are supposed to be in.

Those infamous niggles and several quality issues are a result of deficiency in Engineering.

Customers and critics attribute the quality issues to lack of quality control and cost cutting. Whereas the real reason is bad engineering.

Insufficient engineering could be the root cause of poor build quality, poor fit and finish and non uniform panel gaps.

Qulity Assurance teams, with all those tools in the world can assure quality only upto the level of the design, specification and drawings.

All the process controls in assembly lines and robotic environment are limited by the level of engineering of the product.

Having said that, would like to point out that lack of quality control is obvious in many C class items and these C class items (eventhough insignificant to the company), does matter a lot in overall impression gained by potential customers when they see the car.

Now the reality is even some small companies, with licenced technology are able to produce reliable vehicles inspite of having less infracstructure and lower process control systems than TML.

Engineering and Development team need to wake up and put their acts together and work on tight KRAs (Key Result Areas) to change the perception about TATA Motors.

4. Incompetent, undisciplined Dealers and TASS:

Various internet forums, print media and all are full of documented facts and stories about this subject. I don't have to elaborate anything on this.


Task in hand
After reading some of the interviews appearing in print media and internet, its obvious that Mr. Karl Slym is fully aware of the task in hand.

Wish you all the best Karl.
 
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i too agree with many of your points addressed here.

regarding storme it was around a year ago where they had asked for feedback from potential customers.

what have they changed in the storme form that feedback? nothing.

this forms a image of "take it or leave it " to the customer.

on the other hand, in the interwebz there was a mention of m & M launching the older rexton.

some members tweeted mr mahindra to not have high hopes with the older rexton if they plan to launch one and that the newer rexton is the order of the day".

within the remaining timeframe they shelved their plans for the older rexton and they have now launched the rexton w in the market.

such small steps do come a long way in improving atleast the perception among the customers.
 
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TASS is the major factor.

When I finalized manza purchase, I called up TATA call centre, lady said, no BS3 manza available at factory, and BS3 model manufacturing has been stopped. After one month the factory delivered BS3 MANZA to the dealer.[frustration]

During same period one of the Ranjangaon TATA engineer (very well known to my family) claimed that he can get the car features assembled as per my personal requirements.I asked for T wine (violet) color in AURA varient (only topend 3 varients were coming with TWine color in those days), He said not possible, asked me to go for topend.

So, Uncontrolled bluffing is also a problem.
 
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AFA, TASS is concerned, I request Mr.karl to setup TATA'S own service centers, at 15 to 20 major cities at least , also operated by their own engineers, just like COCO(company owned, company operated) fuel station s in India.

These service station will set up norms for custemer care, They will not only serve as training centers for TASS employees but also as a referral centersfor problematic cars.

Whereever , it's not possible to setup COCO service stations, you can setup DOCO(dealer owned company operated) service stations utilizing the existing facility.

This will be a better thing than the present DOMO (dealer owned moron operated) TASS.
 
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Tornado,

Concorde Motors (Authorised dealer in some Cities) is owned by TATA Motors.


One issue at TASS and Dealer Show rooms is that many times the SAs and SEs find a short cut way - to any issues faced by the customer or any querry, they try to bluf by saying that 'this issue is common in all Tata cars' or something like that.
 
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My two bits
Mr Slym please have 1 senior level person in-charge of 'each' vehicle-that person must be responsible for the quality and After sales. This person should be responsive to online (as well as written) and must have passion for that vehicle
 
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:please::please:One more suggestion, Mr.carl, Please appoint a perrson who has owned, driven atleast 3 different car brands in the past, and ask him to read the ownership reviews of TATA cars and other brands posted at TAI and other such forums, and ask him to communicate with senior members there, He can be labeled as Laison officer.
I am sure it will help in bridging 90% of communication gaps, (custemer-tata, TASS-custemer, TASS-TATA, TASS-employees, dealer-TASS, ...) hence improvement .Also it will help in knowing , where is Tata and where is its competition?

If it is not possible to do so, I request you to read this open letter till its end.It should not happen that whole automobile community read it and you didn't.
 
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The Biggest Problem with TML is the internal disconnect between senior and junior employees. i have seen awesome and fantastic young ENGG Trainees and MBA trainees in TML, but the hierarchy in TML is such that thesi poor youung chaps have to report to the oldies at tata motors. many a times the youungsters have some brilliangt ideas but the old bunch sitting on top does not have the even look at these ideas in fear that they themselves have to STICK to tata motors till their own retirement age and who cares about these young chaps

The frustration is evident in the young brains at TML, who immediately want to hop ship by learning some ERP, SAP courses and moving to IT BANDWAGON where atleast they work with other younger folks and not so older folks

TML should retire / VRS all all the Old chaps who are responsible today for any responsible customer facing profile and bring in all smart young guys or lateral hires who are best in the business and know how to take risks and not stick to age old processes set by TML decades back!!
 
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There is not too much wrong with TATA Motors.Their fundamental is still pretty strong.Just look at newly launched Storme.Even though it is a tall BOF real 4x4 SUV,yet some reviewers are mentioning that it rides and handles better than monocoque XUV500.So product line-up of TATA is still very good.Here are some of the things which they need or need to improve:

1. Smartness:

Recently TATA hasn't played it smart when it comes to product pricing,positioning or marketing.No need for me to elaborate (as we all now their recent short-comings:O),hence they better buckle up if they they want to reach new heights in Indian Automotive Scene.


2. After Sales Service:

This is another key area,though I must honestly confess that they are improving in this area steadily,just need to quicken the procedure.


3. New Products:

We all know life is progress,the moment you become stagnant you simply perish.Since 2010 TATA really hasn't launched any "all new products",just botox and silicon on existing products hasn't done them any favours, has it? Storme is new all-right,but will the market conceive it as all new,since it uses the same body shell of 14 yrs old Safari,the answer is NO.

All said and done they need fresh blood in their line-up and soon.


4. Better PR dept.:

TATA's PR team has been extremely lethargic to say the least.Just look at how they are handling Storme's launch and promotions.Again they need to buckle up and fast.


THE X-OVER's Conclusion:

In my honest view,things are not as bad as they look from outside.Anybody who has listen to the various interviews of Mr. Slym after he joined as TATA M.D., knows that they are preparing for the future and by that I mean future take-over of Indian car market.

Can they do it??

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!![:)]
 
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@AutoSafari

Thank you for your time in writing such a nice open letter to TATA, which was there in my mind since quite some time.

I express the same feelings like you and validate all the points from my side as a professional experience in Production,Product Design, Supply Chain,Materials,Customer support & Service, Sales marketing and Business development finally heading an industry.

I really wonder why TATA is unable to understand such simple and fundamental things of business. To make their life easy in future I suggest them, please employ a dedicated person to read all the websites like TAI and conclude them to improve further which are more accurate from customers mind and just first hand information !![:)]

Though Storm may be very good, but I am terribly disappointed with their sales strategy, launch strategy across the country and no communication at all to the poor dealers. I wish it could have been a biggest launch and event in the country
 
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Is this letter posted or yet only on our forum?

They should really wake up now as after 15 years in field, tata is not yet counted as passenger car maker!
 

350Z

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Excellent topic, Autosafari. You have hit the nail on the head. As a Tata’s customer, Your straightforward opinion about the brand is really appreciated. Tata Motors has come a long way as far as their stint in passenger vehicles is concerned. The overall quality levels have improved to a significant extent as compared to what it was a decade ago. Although I find it surprising that in spite of having best of the resources in hands, Tata isn’t utilizing them efficiently. There was a lot of hoopla ahead of the Aria’s launch (including marketing) but it turned out to be a complete washout for the brand due to improper market positioning / impression. Storme’s launch was further a shock for me. In spite of being one of the important events, it was able attract a very limited number of media persons unlike in other launch events.

As a customer whenever I went to a Tata dealership, the overall experience has been nothing but unprofessional. I’m not sure about Tata, but Ford is quite proactive in providing customer support and seeks continuous feedback of their dealerships / service centers after a workshop visit. If similar approach is used by Tata to tighten up their sales and service support, I hope something could work out in favor of them. The company now has support of a couple of well-known and experienced professionals from the industry (Karl Slym and Neeraj Garg). They have a few undone tasks to complete and I do have some serious expectations from them.

Drive Safe,
350Z
 
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Well pointed out questions auto safari, just came across his interview where he sounded very up beat about the future of TATA MOTOR'S.

What is your mandate? Do you think there is a need to revive the company?

I don’t think the company needs a revival. In commercial vehicles, we have a very broad and strong portfolio. Yes we have got new competition coming in that area. For me, that’s an opportunity. When we get competition, it allows us to ensure that we are doing the right thing.

...

We are not looking to create a Jaguar. There is nothing like that. We can have the capabilities to improve performance and offer lightweight kind of design. We can help them with some of the things that we have by virtue of being in a market where cost is important.

What about exports?

It is not the priority. The first priority is the domestic market.
Our target is to be a strong No.2 and challenge the No.1 - Livemint
 
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Excellent Case Study Sir,

Being a management graduate from premier b-school in India I went through many Case studies in college, Seminar etc.. But this Case study one of the very best and brilliant one I had ever went through. Really goanna publish this link in my College Website and suggest my junior to go through this.
 
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