Tata Unveils New Small Truck as Maruti Plans Challenge

Tata Motors Ltd. unveiled a small cargo truck with capacity to carry up to 1 ton as Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. plans to challenge its dominance in the segment.

The pickup, called Ace Mega, has a starting price of 431,000 rupees ($6,530), the Mumbai-based company said in a statement. Sales of the vehicle have begun in seven states and will be extended to the rest of the country by next month, Ravi Pisharody, executive director for commercial vehicles at Tata Motors, told reporters in Mumbai.

India’s biggest truckmaker is bolstering its lineup in the segment for vehicles that carry 2 tons or less -- where it has a 76 percent market share -- as Maruti plans to add small trucks and diversify beyond passenger vehicles. Tata Motors is counting on a pickup in economic activity to drive demand for its small trucks.

“In a market where others are entering, this product will protect our market share,” Pisharody said. “There will be replacement demand.”

Demand for small trucks has been waning, with deliveries in the April-July period dropping 18 percent after three consecutive annual periods of declines. Tata Motors said this month that while medium- and heavy truck sales were rising, demand for light trucks was still weak.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., which also competes in the small truck segment, has seen sales of such vehicles rise 23 percent in the four months through July after it introduced a model called Jeeto in June. Maruti Chairman R.C. Bhargava said in March that the carmaker will introduce a commercial vehicle this year with a payload of about 1 ton and sell it through separate showrooms.

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