Is the Aria Crossover the biggest flop in Tata Motors’ relatively short history of passenger cars?
Tata Motors showcased its most expensive product ever in the passenger car space, the Aria Crossover, at the 2010 Indian Auto Expo. Many months later, the crossover was launched in India, however with a factor that set it apart from rest of Tata’s products. The Aria was launched at an ex-showroom Delhi price range of INR 12.9 to 15.5 lakhs. At this price, it made the Aria the most expensive Tata passenger car ever built, thus positioning it at a segment that Tata had never existed before. The price though had a very uncharacteristic feature of Tata, of that of not being value-for-money.
While Tata Motors initially justified the pricing strategy of being consonant with the premium positioning of the product, a Tata car commanding a price close to INR 20 lakhs(for the top end variant of the Aria in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad) was something that was unheard of. Long perceived as a budget car maker, the Tata Aria, for all its premium-ness had a tough time in justifying the higher cost as the brand value of Tata’s cars simply have some way to go before competing with the likes of Hondas and Toyotas of this world, leave alone the Volkswagens and the Skodas.
To cut a long story short, the Tata Aria bombed at the hustings, and quite badly at that despite being the best built Tata car ever to roll out of the passenger car division at Pimpri, off Pune. The Aria was painstakingly developed with good interiors, reasonable fit and finish levels(for a Tata), copious interior space, safe styling and many inputs from engineers straight from Jaguar-Land Rover. Despite all this, the crossover simply failed to take off, with Tata Motors finally launching a cut price version a year later to spur sales into a higher gear. Has it worked?
Hell no, is the answer, straight and simple. Far from becoming a better seller with the advent of the cut price 2 wheel drive variant, the Aria has gone on to clock lower lows each passing month, after a small spurt coming close on the heels of the cut price variant. When we reported about the Tata Aria’s sales hitting an all time low about half a year ago, we assumed that the bottom was reached and the only way up for the Aria, is well, up. However, the crossover has stunned us for the last three months’ sales figures. April: 63 units May: 67 units June:17 units. Now, that brings us back to the original question, Is the Aria Crossover the biggest flop in Tata Motors’ relatively short history of passenger cars? An answer for this question should be out in another six months. Watch this space.