Fusion Automotive managing director Darren Bowler told CarAdvice that Tata remained committed to meeting its goal stated at its October launch that it would introduce passenger cars to Australia within five years, and said his latest subcontinental expedition had left him feeling excited about the future.
“Passenger car opportunity for Tata in Australia is fantastic,” Bowler said. “We looked at a number of cars, and other cars in the product plan for the next three to four years, and there is a lot of exciting product coming out of Tata Motors that creates opportunity in Australia for the passenger car segment.”
Bowler spent time with Tata’s new global city cars, the Zest sedan and Bolt hatchback, as well as the Nexon sub-compact SUV concept – all of which also appeared at the Geneva motor show earlier this month – and admitted those three cars are “certainly of interest to us”.
“The next generation of cars coming through today and the next generation of passenger vehicles coming through in the next three to five years out of Tata Motors, it’s very much a global car company, and they are very much heading in the global car direction,” he said.
Bowler insisted any model considered for an Australian launch would need to satisfy a range of criteria, however, and would not be introduced before meeting the local team’s basic principles.
“Value adding, feature content and safety are the criteria that we’re working to with this brand, and we just need to ensure that the product is suited to the Australian market and can offer the Australian consumer all of those things,” he said.
“Certainly on those particular cars there is opportunity there, but again the feature content has got to be right for us, and the safety aspects of those particular models need to be aligned with our values for the brand in Australia.”
Bowler said for now the brand was focused on its Xenon ute and building its local sales network, which will include 28 dealers by the end of March and will continue to expand throughout 2014.
Just 100 Xenons have been sold in Australia since the brand’s launch in October, and remaining stock is currently being sold at reduced driveaway prices before vehicles equipped with electronic stability control arrive in mid-June.
Independent local safety assessor ANCAP today announced a two-star rating for the Xenon, though that rating is tipped to double with ESC fitted.
Bowler said his company has set its sights on selling 1800-2000 Xenons across the country in 2014.