17 September 2023

Tata Motors Prod / Sales : 2001/02 - 2022-23

Most people have never seen a Tata vehicle before, yet production and sales were close to 1,000,000 in the 2022-23 year. The reason is that Indian vehicle makers have an extremely protected domestic market and that is where virtually all of them are sold. Countries that have their own vehicle manufacturing will not open their markets unless they can access to the Indian market in return.

So if India allowed better access to its market, it would have better access to many more overseas ones. The issue is are the vehicles made in India of a suitable standard? Up to now not quite but they are not far off. India can export to markets where they do have free access and that is starting to happen.

In the last year on the chart below, of the 954,600 vehicles sold, only 22,700 were exported. That represented just 2.4% of the total. That means that volume can move up and down more dramatically with all the eggs in one basket. Low wages reduce the financial impact of this.

Tata is heavily reliant on commercial vehicles, with a return to more emphasis on passenger cars taking place. Back in 2000-01, PCs made up 51% of units sold, but that had halved by 2015-16. It's now back up to 56.7% and climbing. 

The Indian government wants to reduce protection but manufacturers in general are very much against it. I think the local market wouldn't be swamped with imports if tariffs were reduced or eliminated. The price of a vehicle is still an important factor and domestic manufacturers have a low wage structure as an advantage. 

The problem is trying to sell vehicles in mature markets with products that still need to improve in their quality. 

So with little chance to improve exports with better trade deals, manufacturers will naturally want to protect their home patch. That despite the likelihood of their being overrun at home is zero.  

In summary, Tata has an expansive range of trucks with an increasing range of passenger vehicles. The time to push toward a greater export focus is surely planned as quality improves. 

Data source: Tata Motors.

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