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Tata thinks globally but acts regionally

Man with the plan: Tata chief Karl Slym.

Tata to tap into market-specific expertise as part of global expansion

26 Aug 2013


TATA managing director Karl Slym has emphasised the importance of successful global distribution partnerships as the Indian brand embarks on its biggest model offensive to date.

With at least a dozen facelifted or all-new vehicles coming by the end of this decade, the ex-General Motors veteran wants to use the experience and feedback of locally based distributors in each market to help better shape future models.

Tata has already signed on various new international business and distribution partnerships – including one with the Walkinshaw Group’s Fusion Automotive arm based in Melbourne. Their first joint venture will be the launch of the Xenon pick-up truck range in October.

According to Mr Slym, it is the best way to improve Tata’s quality and customer focus, and underscores the two-way benefits of its international business plan.

“The requirements for strong partners who understand the countries in which we’re looking to in our international business (is paramount),” he told Australian journalists at the Xenon first drive day in India last week.

“We don’t want to have to land in a foreign country and expect to do the best we can without local employees we want to merge the capabilities of Tata Motors with strong capabilities in the countries we want to grow our business in. And our relationship with Fusion is a true example of that.

“Do we want ship 10 Indians and a British guy to a new market and say: ‘right, go do business there?’ No.

“We want a professional partner who knows how to do business over there. They take care of local requirements, we take care of the vehicle. That’s why the Fusion partnership is so important – we don’t know how to do their bit. They do.” Mr Slym added that Tata will make more suitable vehicles from the feedback it receives from its regional partners.

“We have a long-term plan, not to only go into (new) markets, but for (that market’s needs) to be linked back into product development,” he revealed.

“So we’re not just going to use the Tata Motors product that was made for India to go into the international market. We are taking the strengths of Tata Motors’ development and engineering, but have the international markets requirements built into them from the beginning.

“That’s a very important strategy within our company that is really going to help us with the product but also the international market readiness. All of the product approved out until 2020 has already got the international markets and their requirements built in to the design and development cycle.

“We are taking a very serious approach to each market that we go to, so we can get it right first time, and then build on that success.”

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