With the Indian passenger vehicles market moving further towards the SUV segment, homegrown auto major Tata Motors is gearing up to cast a wider net in the segment targeting first-time buyers to premium-end customers while driving strength from its synergies with JLR, according to a top company official. The firm, which on Monday launched the all-new Safari SUV with introductory prices ranging from Rs 14.69 lakh and Rs 21.45 lakh, is seeking to build on the legacy of the Safari brand which "has played a leading role in shaping the Indian SUV market".
Speaking at the launch event, Tata Motors Chairman N Chandrasekaran said that over the years the company has introduced various iconic brands like Sierra, Estate, Indica and Nano.
The recent launches of Nexon, Alroz and Harrier with their distinctive attributes and features have brought in best-in-class standards of safety, design and performance, he added.
"The original Tata Safari is also such an iconic brand when it was launched in 1998. It glamourised the concept of lifestyle SUV. Now we are really delighted to bring in new Safari in its new avatar.
“I am delighted that both Tata Motors and Jaguar Land Rover have collaborated and brought in the synergies to bring in best in class products for the Indian consumer," Chandrasekaran noted.
The company's new range of products has received enormous support and growth in sales and demand from the consumers, he said.
The new Safari is based on the D8 platform from Land Rover which allows for further drive train enhancements including all-wheel drive and possibilities of electrification in the future. The company's Harrier SUV is also based on the same D8 platform.
The new Safari comes with six and seven-seat options and is powered by a 2-liter diesel engine which generates 170 PS of power.
The model comes with six-speed manual and automatic transmission options and various features like a panoramic sunroof, reclining second-row seats, ambient mood lighting, rear AC vents, multi-drive modes among others.
Safari range starts at Rs 14.69 lakh and Rs 21.25 lakh, while the adventure edition is priced at Rs 20.2 lakh and Rs 21.45 (automatic), respectively.
"Safari as our new flagship is connecting the aspirations of the discerning and evolved SUV customers… It is an impressive endorsement of our stated intent of enhancing presence in the faster-growing market segments," Tata Motors MD and CEO Guenter Butschek said.
Elaborating further, Tata Motors President – Passenger Vehicle Business Unit Shailesh Chandra said the new Safari and the upcoming compact SUV later this year would help the company generate more volumes from its SUV portfolio.
"The way we plan and conceptualise our portfolio is in line with how we are seeing the (market) evolution, what is the point of view we have developed in terms of what the whole market landscape will be in the next five to six years and in the (next) ten year period," he noted.
He was responding to a query on the reasons for Tata Motors' enhanced focus on the SUV segment.
"Today every one out of three vehicles sold is SUV. You can see the craze, especially in the last one decade or so... Directionally, you are seeing a movement towards SUV and therefore, we are strengthening our portfolio with the four SUVs -- Nexon, Harrier, Safari then there is a potential code-named Hornbill, which comes as an SUV below Nexon," Chandra added.
The idea behind offering a wide range of SUVs, he said is that "we would have the widest portfolio serving people, who might be considering a vehicle for the first time to the extent that as they upgrade they can move up to Safari and bring this continuity from a customer".
Chandra noted that the model could be upgraded to a four-wheel drive in the future if the demand is robust.
"The model in its current form can do pretty serious offroading with terrain response system," he said. The earlier Safari used to come with the four-wheel-drive option.
When conceptualising the new Safari four years back, Chandra said Tata Motors has kept into consideration the 'strong legacy' of the brand, preferences and expectations of the new-age customers and how SUVs are evolving globally from a technical perspective.
While bullish on the sales expectations from the new Safari, Chandra said Tata Motors is looking at the product not just from a volume perspective but also from overall revenue and bottom line perspective.
"We have kept enough flexibility so that at the same manufacturing facility there are a lot of common parts with Harrier. So there is established maturity of production, as well as quality," he said adding that it should be a seamless effort for the company even if there was a need to enhance the capacity a bit when the need comes.
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