Tata Motors looks to boost trucks business

MUMBAI Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:41pm IST

Tata Motors' range of trucks are displayed during a news conference in Mumbai May 28, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/Files

Tata Motors' range of trucks are displayed during a news conference in Mumbai May 28, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe/Files

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - Tata Motors(TAMO.BO), bolstered by a turnaround at its luxury Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) brands and a surge in demand at home, is looking to expand its commercial vehicles business, its chief executive said.

The company sees strong potential for the trucks business globally, and is keen on exploring new markets, Group Chief Executive and Managing Director Carl-Peter Forster told reporters on Thursday.

"In commercial vehicles, we are a dominant player in India. Tata has all the ingredients to be and it is our ambition to be a big player globally," he said.

The firm is also looking to boost capacity in India to manufacture small trucks, its India head P.M. Telang said. This would be done by adding capacity at its existing plant in north India, as well as by building a new plant.

Tata is also looking to explore synergies with partner Fiat(FIA) and use the Italian automaker's technology for commercial vehicles overseas.

Both companies currently have an equal joint venture to sell Fiat-branded cars such as Linea, Grande Punto and the Palio in India.

"We already have the World truck, which meets the requirements of international customers. We are exploring new markets where we wil grow through partnerships or alone, depending on what works for us," Germany-born Forster said.

RIDING ON JLR

Earlier this week, Tata, India's leading vehicle maker with about two-thirds of the Indian market, swept past forecasts with a fourth straight quarterly profit, driven by demand for JLR.

The results boosted its shares to their highest in at least two decades.

"So far as JLR is concerned, we are strengthening the product portfolio and paying attention to positioning of the brands within JLR," Forster said.

The company now plans to come up with a modern-day Defender Land Rover model.

Forster, 55, who joined Tata from General Motors Europe earlier this year to bolster its international ambitions, said new products from the company's luxury brand stable of Jaguar and Land Rover were being well received.

The son of a German diplomat and a former BMW executive, Forster left GM after it scrapped a planned sale of its Opel unit to Canada's Magna International.

He has spearheaded plans to start manufacturing in China as part of a push to expand Jaguar sales in emerging markets and this week said Land Rover vehicles would be assembled in India from next year.

"We have very ambitious plans for both Tata Motors and JLR. We have embarked on an international strategy to identify key markets," he said on Thursday.

Tata's results came amid a surge in demand for cars, trucks and buses in India. Car sales in India hit a record high in July, jumping 38 percent from a year earlier, boosted by the launch of new models and the strong economy.

At 0938 GMT, shares in Tata Motors, valued at $12 billion by the market, were trading at 1,009.45 rupees, up 0. 3 percent in a flat Mumbai market

(Writing by Prashant Mehra; editing by Jui Chakravorty and Simon Jessop)

(For more business news on Reuters India click in.reuters.com)

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