Come January and Zica, the newest hatchback from the Tata Motors' stable, will hit the road. Expected to be priced at around Rs 4,00,000, Zica is being positioned as a competitor to the Hyundai Grand i10 and Maruti Suzuki Celerio. It is also the first launch after Lionel Messi came on board as brand ambassador for Tata Motors, a relationship that the company hopes will help kickstart a new relationship with the millennial consumer.
For Tata Motors, Zica sits between the Tata Nano (price sub Rs 3,00,000) and the Tata Indica (priced at Rs 4,67,151) in its auto portfolio. Zica will have multi-drive modes, infotainment system, bluetooth connectivity and even an Android-based mobile application system for a better connectivity. Clearly hi-tech gadgetry is being seen as a way to the young consumer's wallet.
"In 2007-08 the average age of people buying cars was 45 years but as of 2012-13 the age was down to 35 years. Today people less than 30 years of age are buying 22 per cent of the cars; and on 30 per cent of the purchases, women have a say on what to buy", says Mayank Pareek, president (passenger vehicle business unit), Tata Motors. The millennial buyer is also one of the reasons the company roped in Lionel Messi, one of world's best known footballers, as its global brand ambassador for passenger cars. This was a first for the company, which has never hired a brand ambassador in its 70 years of existence. "We took a leap in brand exposure by associating with Messi," says Pareek.
Why did they choose Messi? Football, research showed, is more appealing to the young Indian. "While cricket is popular the message we got was that it was not considered cool. Whereas football, has achieved that 'cool status'," added Pareek.
To keep the Zica a 'youth-centric' car the company has also focused on music and entertainment-led features. The Harman-developed entertainment system (it has eight speakers) is Zica's big draw. Another attraction is expected to be a new Andriod-based app called Juke developed by Tata Elxsi, which links up to 10 mobiles, utilising the mobile hotspot to create a virtual network and to host a service list of available songs.
"It had to appeal to younger minds and tastes not just from the outside but from the inside as well. The dual tone colours in the interior which are the same as the car's body colour (red and brown) are not found on other vehicles," said Pratap Bose, head of design, Tata Motors. Zica, which has been designed in-house by Tata Motors' design teams working in India, Italy and the UK, has been three years in the making.
The Zica gets two totally new engines, petrol and diesel. The all-aluminium 1.2 litre, three cylinder petrol is a new ground-up naturally aspirated engine generating peak power of 85ps unlike the four cylinder cast iron structure of strapped on the Tata Bolt. The diesel version, meanwhile, carries the smallest engine yet developed by Tata Motors, a one-litre three-cylinder, turbo-charged mill that develops peak power 70ps. Though buyers today are skewed towards petrol (55:45) Tata Motors expects demand to be as vibrant for the diesel variant. While company officials refused to reveal mileage data, reports state that a litre of diesel can push the Zica up to 25-30 kilometers.
Zica will have to face stiff competition from the Hyundai Grand i10 and Maruti Suzuki Celerio, both of which are in the top ten best-selling cars list. Though exact pricing will be revealed next month the market expects it at around Rs 4,00,000, slightly lower than the Grand i10 (Rs 4,90,000) and the Celerio (Rs 4,17,000) (ex-showroom, Mumbai).
The Zica launch is also strategic as this is the fastest growing segment in the passenger cars category. Both the Hyundai and Maruti models sold an average of 17,600 units a month this year in the April-October period as against average of 14,000 units clocked in the same period last year. With a growth of 26 per cent, this is the fastest growing segment in the industry.
Maruti Suzuki's Wagon R, which is in the same price bracket, churns an average of 14,000-15,000 units a month, as per data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
Like the Celerio, Zica too will be seen with an automatic manual transmission (AMT) at a later stage, confirmed a Tata Motors oficial. A substantial chunk of Celerio sales is generated from the AMT variant, which is essentially an affordable option to a fully automatic transmission model.
Tata Motors has timed the Messi association in such a way that its next line of products, backed by high pitch promotional campaigns, gets maximum attention. The Zica will be duly followed by a compact sedan based on the same platform, which will rival the segment best-seller Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Hyundai Xcent and Honda Amaze.