Tata: more models, more value for money
Relatively new to South Africa, the Tata Group has made an impact with a vehicle range offering durability, comfort and value for money. Now it’s planning new model launches.
The multi-national Tata Group of companies, with major interests in steel, engineering, vehicle manufacturing, telecommunications, power, chemicals and hospitality has made an impact on the South African transport market with a vehicle range that is known for its durability, comfort and value for money.
The Tata group has been operating in Africa for more than 30 years, but came to South Africa only in 1997 when Tata Automobile Corporation SA was set up as a subsidiary of Tata Africa Holdings to market and distribute Tata commercial vehicles throughout Southern Africa. Since 1998, it has been operating a commercial vehicle division for medium, heavy and extra heavy vehicles, after initially introducing only two truck models, the 2-ton LPT 509 and the 4-ton LPT 713.
Over the years, the company has expanded its product line-up with the addition of an improved 2-ton truck, the SFC 407, the 3-ton LPT 709, a 4×4 version of the LPT 713, the 8-ton LPT 1518, and the extra-heavy range of Novus truck-tractors, tippers and concrete mixers after Tata acquired the Novus plant in Korea.
Having a full range of truck models, Tata is not only well represented in the distribution market – especially among bakeries – but also in the construction and mining industries.
Sales manager Sreenath Punathil and veteran truck consultant Doug Viljoen report that the LPT 713 and LPT 1518 models have been upgraded in response to customer requirements and have been the top sellers in their respective categories for some years.
“Tata vehicles have come to be recognised for their utility, quality and comfort. The success of the LPT 713 and LPT 1518 and introduction of the Novus range in 2005 have resulted in more than 20 000 units having been sold to date in South Africa,” said Viljoen. Punathil added that, especially in the construction industry, the Novus tippers are very popular, not only because they offered value for money, but also because of their fast tipping cycle time and the two-year/160 000 km warranty on the driveline. “Tata is now not only a powerful force and major player in the South African trucking market, but we have 34 full dealerships at strategic points to fully back our products throughout the country. We also have provided a network of service dealers for service and parts,” Viljoen added. This was in addition to in-house training facilities for technicians, mechanics, workshop managers and for customer driver training.
It doesn’t end there: Tata plans to introduce a new range of trucks and buses over the next three years with emission controls being appropriate to each African country’s requirement.
“The models currently being sold in South Africa have influenced Tata to infiltrate other countries in Africa,” said Viljoen. “It is because of the ruggedness of our products that our trucks are so suitable for African conditions, plus the fact that we continue to add value to our vehicles as we go along and monitor market feedback. This includes improved driver comfort such as new airsprung seats, an improved gearbox and a more rugged clutch.”