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Monday, Apr 15, 2002

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Tata Engg hopes to overtake industry growth this fiscal

Anand Krishnamoorthy

NEW DELHI, April 14

BUOYED by the strong performance of the Indica last year, Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co Ltd is confident of beating industry growth rates in 2002-03 as well, its Vice-President (passenger car division), Mr Rajiv Dube, said.

"At this point in time, we are expecting a single-digit growth for the passenger car industry, if at all there is a growth. We are confident of beating that growth rate of the industry," Mr Dube told Business Line.

He, however, declined to give details of the actual sales target for the year.

The 1.4-litre Indica, touted as India's first indigenously designed and manufactured car, has been on a hot streak in recent times selling a record 8,769 units in March alone. It has been one of the largest selling cars in the country since the middle of calendar 2002.

Despite a flat domestic car market, Indica sold 64,035 units in 2001-02, up 46 per cent year-on-year. It also sold 24,827 utility vehicles, which was, however, 11 per cent down year-on-year.

Mr Dube also said that the 72-bhp petrol version of the Indica, which was launched late last calendar year, has been significantly improving its sales performance in recent times.

"The proportion of petrol to diesel (Indica) cars has risen to about 20-25 per cent. We see that rising in the current year," he said.

He avoided comment whether the car project achieved cash break-even in 2001-02 saying it would be announced only when the financial results of the company would be made public.

Analysts, however, expressed optimism of the company being on target to achieve cash break-even for the ambitious project saying sales above 60,000 units a year would be enough for the company to reach that target.

Tata Engineering had invested Rs 1,700 crore in the car project.

He said the sedan, which would be badged differently from the Indica name despite having a significant physical similarity, is on course and the company is aiming to launch the car by the year-end.

More prototypes of the car, which was unveiled in January at the Auto Expo here, have been made for trial runs, he said. The company had altered its production line to accommodate making of the sedan as well.

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