The value of commitment
TATA has shown impressive growth since entering South Africa almost 20 years ago. Now it’s aiming for the top with a range of value-added products and services.
How do you add value in a market saturated with competition?
For TATA, it’s simple: offer everything your multi-billion dollar worldwide enterprise has, but tailor it specifically to the local customer. The company has been doing this since 1994 when executive director Sudhir Babshet started the company as a subsidiary of TATA International. Today, the company is a fully-fledged operation (also serving as headquarters for TATA’s operations in Africa) with a nationwide network of 35 full and 12 service-only dealerships, and an assembly plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria, where its three-, four-, six-, eight- and 10-tonne trucks are assembled.
TATA currently assembles 100 vehicles a month at its Rosslyn plant, and aims to grow this to 200 within a year, an indication of the company’s strength. “We have grown exponentially for a company that has been here for less than 20 years,” says Babshet. “We want to demonstrate our commitment. TATA is a big empire, but we believe in offering our customers true value and remain committed to that.”
This shines through in TATA’s enhanced service and value-add offerings, which Shaheer Abrahams, general manager: sales and marketing, is keen to explain. It starts with something as basic as good customer service. Through on-going needs evaluations with dealers and its TATA Authorised Service Stations (TASS) network, the company ensures that product quality is constantly enhanced, while the dealer network is fully equipped to handle all customer requirements. The result is minimised downtime, reduced repeat failures and decreased costs.
But in the real world, things can go wrong, and this is where TATA’s 24-hour road-side assistance and emergency call centre comes into play. Call centre operators are specifically trained to assist drivers, and work hand-in-hand with the road-side assistance, breakdown and towing services (for all vehicles whether in or out of warranty) to ensure the safety of drivers and cargo.
When repairs are needed (or just a service, for that matter), TATA insists on the use of its genuine parts, which undergo rigorous quality checks to ensure that every vehicle remains as safe and reliable as new. It’s here that value for money again shines through, with TATA genuine parts enhancing uptime and making upkeep easy.
All this is supported by TATA’s (in-house) Full Maintenance Contract and comprehensive warranty. The maintenance contract is structured to allow dealers to tailor-make plans to suit each vehicle’s unique application and requirements. By calculating the expected maintenance costs over the period, regular, preventative maintenance is allowed. All TATA vehicles are further supported by a standard
one-year/100 000 km warranty, which can be extended to three-years/ 300 000 km.
To enable operators to keep tabs on everything that’s going on with their fleets, there’s TATA’s innovative Fleet Solutions value-add, offering a comprehensive fleet management and security solution that provides individual services to suit customer needs. The four main services are tracking, recovery and data representation; vehicle and driver abuse, operational management and fleet and asset management.
The company is also proud of the free-of-charge training it offers all customers in line with its commitment to skills development in South Africa. “It’s about how you should properly use it, drive it and maintain it,” says Abrahams.
TATA is actively expanding its truck range for local requirements. The first is the V3TXF Novus 480 HP which has been on the market for a few months. Aimed at the long-haul market, it’s fitted with a Cummins engine, Eaton Ultrashift+ clutchless transmission, two final-drive options (3,9 or 4,44) and a double sleeper air-suspended cab. As Abrahams says: “We did a few demos with customers, and they didn’t return the vehicles, they purchased them!”
New to the range is the Prima World Truck extra-heavy, which was thoroughly tested at Gerotek with many more months spent testing with customers in the real world. The company has also introduced a new bus, the LPO 1823 65-seater.
“We won’t introduce any product unless we are happy,” says Babshet. “We don’t rush into anything. We want to know how they perform in real local conditions.”
TATA also ensures that all components fitted are spec’d for particular vehicle applications in local operating conditions. Now that’s commitment to value!