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Tata to take one step at a time

LCV focus: After launching the Xenon ute, Tata will expand its commercial vehicle range to include trucks such as the Ultra and Prima

Walkinshaw-owned distributor Fusion will roll out more models after Xenon

26 Aug 2013

FUSION Automotive will start small with the distribution of Tata vehicles in Australia as its works on establishing the Indian brand as a viable choice in the packed local market.

Only one model range will be available at launch, the Xenon ute, but a sequence of additional commercial and passenger offerings are earmarked for launch over the next few years.

The reason for this slow-burn, according to Fusion managing director Darren Bowler, is a desire not to overburden the supply chain and flood the market with a comparatively little-known brand on our shores.

“The key is for us to establish the brand, show the strength in that brand, to show that the product is of quality, and is a product that it can fit into the Australian market,” Mr Bowler told GoAuto at the Xenon drive program in India last week.

“That’s why we’re coming in and just working our way with one model and six variants of that model… rather than flooding the market, having too many models, pushing the volume, having too many dealers and having an oversupply of vehicles. It just creates a stress for everybody.”

This will give Fusion breathing room before it brings Tata’s Ultra medium-sized truck, Prima heavy truck, and a bus range (probably the Marcopolo) to market within the next three years.

Beyond that, from about 2016, a number of as-yet unreleased next-generation of Tata passenger vehicles – likely to be a compact SUV and a Toyota Yaris-sized B-segment hatch currently served by the Vista – are earmarked for Australia.

 center imageFrom top: Tata Prima heavy truck and Marcopolo bus.

However, Fusion will not reveal what they might be, electing instead to concentrate on the initial light commercial vehicle push as the priority right now.

As Fusion is part of the greater Walkinshaw Automotive Group (it is located in the same Melbourne facility as Holden Special Vehicles), the company is also looking beyond Tata Motors to shore up more automotive brands in the future.

“Like any business, we would be silly not to look at what other options there are,” Mr Bowler revealed.

“Everybody wants to be in China… we’ve been there, we’ve had a look, we’ve had discussions, as we’ve been to India obviously with Tata. Now, that’s our focus, and will be our focus for quite some time.

“But certainly there are other things happening in the outside world, and globally you’ve got to look outside your own backyard to grow your business, so nothing is out of the question.

“There are a number of discussions that have happened previously to our signing our agreement with Tata, and there are still discussions that are happening in all the different areas that we are playing with.

“But our focus is with Tata, and we’ll focus on launching that to get it right.”

A 25-year veteran, Mr Bowler was previously a director of the Walkinshaw Automotive Group, HSV general manager of sales and marketing, and regional aftersales manager for the previous distributor of Audi and Hyundai in Australia.

His chief operations officer, Oliver Lukeis, also held roles at HSV, after a 15-plus year stint with Honda.

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