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Tata to enter local truck market

Heavy load: The Tata Ultra will compete with models such as the Isuzu N-Series, Mitsubishi Fuso Canter, Foton ISF and the Hino 300 when it eventually goes on sale in Australia.

Indian brand confirms entry to local heavy commercial segment within three years

Tata logo23 Jul 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

TATA Motors has confirmed it will introduce a heavy commercial vehicle line-up in the next three years, as it seeks to widen its focus beyond light commercial vehicles in the Australian market.

Local distributor, Fusion Automotive, is evaluating potential medium and heavy commercial models for Australia, which would boost the Tata line-up beyond the Xenon utility range - its current sole offering.

Speaking with local media last week, Fusion Automotive managing director Darren Bowler said it was “highly likely” that Tata would introduce trucks to Australia and gave a time-frame of three years.

Mr Bowler added that Fusion would only add new commercial vehicles to the line-up if they were a good fit for the market.

“Entering market with Xenon is the entrance for us,” he said. “The gateway is open and the future is very very big. We are looking at markets with the two trucks – Prima and Ultra – that other people haven't got.

“We have come into the market looking at what we have to offer and making sure the product is designed to fit in with the Australian market. Not just taking product off the shelf and going 'that will do'. It's got to be the right product, it's got to fit in, it's got to be priced right and it's got to add value for the consumer.”

The Prima is a heavy commercial vehicle and offers a number of body-styles in other markets, including a tipper, and would compete against similarly sized trucks from manufacturers including Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Scania and Mitsubishi Fuso.

The smaller Ultra, which is also on the cards, would compete in the busy light truck segment against the Isuzu N-Series, Mitsubishi Fuso Canter, Foton ISF and the Hino 300.

Mr Bowler said the models feature high-quality components and equipment which will ensure they are competitive in Australia.

“The Prima runs a Cummins ISX (diesel) engine, Eaton transmission. It's the key things that the heavy industry wants in Australia, they demand that in a truck.

So that was fed in – these are the must-haves.

“Ultra is similar. It must have Euro 5, and it must have the right criteria to fit into that particular segment. We are working on all of those at the moment.”

Mr Bowler said the heavy commercial range would be sold in specialist dealers, separate from the Xenon LCV.

Tata Motors head of international business R T Wasan said that the quality of the truck range is further evidence of the brand’s progress in building vehicles for a global market.

“In the past we have been making products which were developed for the Indian market and trying to see how we could export to international markets. If you look at recent products we have come out with, the Tata Xenon, which is certainly built for global markets.

“If you look at the design of the Tata Prima heavy commercial vehicle, it is truly world class in that it has a contemporary cabin, the best of features, comfort, safety, and the drivetrain is truly international. It has a Cummins engine a ZF gearbox. It has got everything that can compete with likes of Mercedes or Volvo.” The Indian brand is the fourth largest heavy commercial vehicle-maker in the world.

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