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Sep 11, 2017 05:18 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

When Tata Motors banked on Dronas & Acharyas to push truck, bus sales

Tata Motors has been under tremendous pressure with the continuous slump in demand for trucks and buses especially last two years. It lost 14 percent share in the commercial vehicle space in last five years.

BySwaraj Baggonkar
When Tata Motors banked on Dronas & Acharyas to push truck, bus sales

Tata Motors has been under tremendous pressure with the continuous slump in demand for trucks and buses especially during the last two years. It lost 14 percent share in the commercial vehicle space in the last five years.

Much of that was due to the aggression shown by new players such Daimler, VE Commercial Vehicles and Mahindra & Mahindra and also by old rival Ashok Leyland. This hurt Tata Motors the most since Rs 7 out of every Rs 10 the company (stand-alone) generates actually comes from the sale of trucks and buses.

Acharya Drona is a mythological figure from the Hindu epic Mahabharata who was the master of advanced military arts.

In order to get back some of the lost market share Tata Motors has decided to take help from Dronas and Acharyas to convince the local buyer.

A Drona, according to the company, is an expert in the field of either sales, technical aspects or driver training. He can be summoned by a Tata Motors customer or dealer for any product related issue even in areas such as low fuel efficiency.

RT Wasan, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Tata Motors, said “One set of Drona is being used for training the dealer sales executives and managers. We provide training to them on selling skills and also on products. The other kind is what we use in service workshops to train the mechanics and people working at the service centres. And the third type are the ones on the field who do the training of drivers on how to get better fuel economy.”

These product, sales and service experts are not directly on the payrolls of Tata Motors but work with the company on a contractual basis. The Dronas are deployed not just for medium and heavy commercial vehicles but for light and mini trucks and vans as well.

“We started with a pilot project sometime last year and the response we have received thus far has been tremendous. Today, people are asking us for Dronas to be sent to them,” added Wasan.

Further, realising the important part that local mechanics play in the life of a truck, Tata Motors has tied up with several of these roadside mechanics. These mechanics, which number about 12,000 and are in turn called Acharyas, are trained to handle the new generation Bharat Stage 4 vehicles.

“There are a lot of retailers and mechanics who are servicing the same population of vehicles. It’s not necessary for everybody to come to a workshop of Tata Motors. So, we have identified a lot of these mechanics and we are training them to service our customers,” added Wasan.

The initiatives may have resulted in some positive development for the company. Tata Motors’ CV market share rose by 3.3 percent by end of August compared to the same month last year. There are about 40 Drona working as part of the plan and a further 40 will be inducted soon. The Acharya count will also go up substantially in the coming months.

“We gave them such names (Drona and Acharya) because we wanted to demonstrate that these very people are the experts. They are there for every kind of vehicle,” added Wasan.

Last financial year, the company posted a decline of 5.3 percent in medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MHCV) to 148,774 units as against 157,120 units sold in 2015-16. The free fall continued well into the first quarter with MHCV volumes falling 35 percent to 23,142 units as against 35,504 units sold in the same quarter last year.
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