It was December 2019. Mayank Pareek, head of Tata Motors' passenger car business, was in the driver’s seat with CEO Guenter Butschek as his co-passenger. In a promotional video, they waxed eloquent about their newest offering Altroz, a premium hatchback.
Three months on, Pareek was no longer at the wheel. His exit followed Tata Motors’ decision to spin off the passenger car division as a separate entity even as the company ended FY20 with 38% drop in passenger vehicle (PV) sales to 1.38 million and 34% drop in commercial vehicle (CV) sales.
The slide at Tata Motors mirrored industry sales hitting a five-year low in FY20, as PV sales fell below the three million mark for the first time since FY17.
Since FY17, a confluence of factors had taken the wind off the domestic auto industry. The NBFC crisis, the uncertainty over the validity of BS-IV vehicles amid the switch to BS-VI emission norms from April 1, 2020, the government’s push for electric vehicles and then came the killer blow with the pandemic. But, Tata Motors’ problems in the domestic car market had been festering even when the industry was going through a purple patch.