April sales volumes have zoomed 38 per cent and the firm has reversed a decline since February. In 2017, Honda sold 63,271 vehicles in the first four months while Tata Motors clocked 55,439 units. That is 14 per cent more than Tata.
On its part, Tata Motors has been growing well, like in the previous year, but the gap with Honda is widening. Tata Motors has also launched two vehicles in the last four months, the Hexa SUV and the Tigor, a compact sedan. But for each of the months since January, volumes sold are lower than Honda. Tata is expected to launch its compact SUV Nexon this year. So, the fight for the number four position will continue. SUV major Mahindra and Mahindra, the third largest in the domestic passenger vehicle market, has not grown for the last few months.
Tata Motors is confident it will move towards its target. “We have a well-thought strategy for our passenger vehicles business and will not comment on a story based on competition,” said a Tata Motors spokesperson.
Jnaneswar Sen, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, Honda Cars, remains upbeat: “We should continue to witness growth due to extremely good response to the City and WR-V. Other models like Amaze and Jazz are stable. We are expanding our reach and added 49 new sales outlets in FY17. The focus is on enhancing experience.” The total number of outlets now stands at 344. The new City has got more than 26,000 bookings since launch while the WR-V has got 13,500 bookings.
Tata Motors recently said its product portfolio addresses only 59 per cent of the market segment and it looks to boosting coverage.
“We are not there in compact SUVs, and we are not there in hot hatches, vans, bigger sedans, larger SUVs,” said Mayank Pareek, president of Tata Motors’ passenger vehicle business. By 2019, with a string of new products (compact SUVs, larger sedans, vans, and others), Tata Motors hopes to cover 95 per cent of the market, which may help it improve market share.