So, it's official now. More than six months after launch, the Zest isn't doing great business out there. At least, it isn't selling as well as we thought it would. Who is to blame here? Tata Motors of course, you might say. Really? Read on.
Circa 2008, on a cold morning in New Delhi, the hugely-anticipated '1 Lakh Car', the Nano, made its debut. Instead of focusing on its finer aspects and how the Nano was actually better than what everybody envisaged it would be, the media went gaga over its price, labeling it the "world's cheapest car." Poor little thing, that very same tag and vested political interests put paid to it's prospects even before the car rolled out of the factory gates. "They killed the Nano with the cheapest car tag and a botched marketing strategy," declared the media, placing the blame squarely on Tata Motors. Of course, a few instances of Nanos catching fire didn't help either.
Came 2010 and the Aria, Tata Motor's most ambitious and most expensive model then, debuted. Pitted against the mighty Innova, the Aria had the road presence, a gamut of creature comforts and safety features, a well-sorted chassis and, most importantly, was priced lesser than the bare-bones Toyota. But, the public weren't ready to see the value proposition there. Instead, they chose to look at the 'more than a million rupee' price tag and shunned the Aria. It struggled to even sustain double digit sales figures every month and Tata's attempt to boost sales by price cuts weren't successful too. Tata Motors was blamed again, this time for the Aria's perceived premium positioning.
The Safari Storme came and hardly made an impact at a time when the Boleros, Scorpios, XUVs and Dusters were ruling the market. The Bolt, the newest Tata in the market launched just two months back, is already struggling. And with each flop show that Tata Motors adds to it's kitty, the criticism and blame game continues too!
And that brings us to the Zest. Here is a car that's not just a match for the competition but, in many aspects, better than the rest too. Be it in styling, interiors, features and ride quality, the Zest has the Dzire, Amaze and Xcent covered. It even offers a turbocharged petrol engine with three driving modes to choose from and has a frugal diesel engine mated to an Automated Manual Transmission, both of which are segment-firsts. Heck, even the build quality of Zest can stand up to the best in segment and that's not something we would normally say about a Tata. To top it all, it is incredibly well-priced too. With all these in its favor, the Zest should sell exceedingly well, right? Alas, that's not the case. The Zest languishes at the bottom while Maruti-Suzuki, Honda and Hyundai laugh all the way to the bank.
We can't help but feel for Tata. When they were blamed for the Nano, Aria, Storme and Bolt debacles, we kept mum. That's because Tata could have done certain things better in each of those cases. But the Zest is a genuinely impressive attempt, one that deserves to be rewarded with success. If the Zest can't make the market realize the strides Tata has made, what else would? For once, we are sure to state that Tata is not to blame. It's the market perception at fault here.
As for Tata, they should keep doing what they did with the Zest in all the new products that are in the pipeline and hope the market perception changes. Honestly, that's all they can do. The rest is with us. Let's give them a chance, shall we? They have, after all, come a long way since the Indica in 1998.