India’s largest carmaker, Tata Motors, is set to re-enter the Australian market through a new independent distributor.
Fusion Automotive have struck a deal with Tata Motors for exclusive marketing and distribution rights within Australia, starting with a range of light commercial vehicles.
Tata kicked off in Australia in 1996 with its Telcoline ute, and the Indian carmaker will again focus on the budget utility market when it relaunches.
A single model - possibly the Tata Xenon or Xenon XT, although unconfirmed - will be available in both two- and four-wheel-drive, single- and crew-cab, and will all be powered by a 2.2 litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine.
Transmission options are also to be confirmed, but a five-speed manual may be the only option.
“We are very pleased to announce our entry in Australia and this marks an important milestone in the continued expansion of our global footprint,” Tata Motors’ Managing Director Karl Slym said.
“As we launch products tested and validated across some of the toughest terrains into the Australian market, we are happy to partner with Fusion Automotive, who brings to the table their tremendous experience in the Australian market."
SsangYong sold 40 light commercial vehicles in Australia in June, while Great Wall sold 508. Toyota, in comparison, sold 6854.
Despite these figures, managing director of Fusion Automotive, Darren Bowler, believes the Tata ute's tough upbringing on rough Indian roads will make it a suitable alternative for Australian customers.
“There is no tougher place on earth to test vehicles than on the tough and demanding roads of India, and we believe this will give the Tata Motors products a competitive advantage within the Australian market,” Mr Bowler said.
“The light commercial segment is now the third largest segment of the Australian new-car market, with 13 major brands in the 4x2 and 4x4 categories. We believe there is demand in Australia for a utility range of vehicles with the toughness and value for money equation that Tata Motors products deliver.”
Speaking with TMR today, Mr Bowler ruled out the future arrival of the sub-light sized Tata Nano, famous for being the world’s cheapest new car at around AU $2800.
As for other passenger vehicles, Mr Bowler said that Fusion Automotive may look to other Tata products in the future.
“There are a number of other vehicles we could consider as Tata has a huge range of great products. But we are focusing on launching our range of commercial vehicles first to make sure we get that right,” Mr Bowler said.
Mr Bowler also said that the first model, specifications and pricing will be announced at a later date, but we could expect pricing for the new commercial vehicle to range from around $20,000 to $30,000.
Fusion Automotive hope to have a network of 13 Tata dealers on deck before the end of the year, with plans to expand the network to 25 dealers over the next 12 months.