New Delhi: Tata Motors Ltd has created a separate division to explore ways to tap its entire range of passenger and commercial vehicles for offering shared mobility solutions, said two people aware of the development. Named Mobility Innovations Hub, the new department is headed by Pankaj Jhunja, formerly with Tata Technologies, said the people cited above, who did not want to be named.
The new department will also look at collaborating with startups such as Ola, Uber and other freight aggregators. Tata Motors is the first auto maker in India to create a separate division exclusively for shared mobility as the company manufactures an entire gamut of vehicles needed for last mile connectivity ranging from small cars to trucks and buses.
Confirming the appointment of Jhunja to run the shared mobility business, a spokesperson for Tata Motors said Jhunja will report to Shailesh Chandra, president, electric mobility business and corporate strategy.
“We have mentioned before, as part of our turnaround journey, we will be creating ring-fenced teams to lead projects in our endeavour to act fast in the market place," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson however declined to elaborate on the plans as Tata Motors is in a silent period ahead of its quarterly results scheduled for 31 October.
The first person mentioned above said the new division will explore the entire aspect of shared mobility but its role will evolve in the future as the subject is still a concept in India.
The division will also work on new technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and big data to help create certain mobility solutions.
“Tata Motors wants to provide end-to-end connectivity to the customers and the company has the range of vehicles in different segments to provide such services," the person said.
“Shared mobility is yet to evolve as a concept but this move from Tata Motors makes sense since these measures may hold the company in good stead once the concept evolves in India."
Underscoring Tata Motors’ focus on shared and connected mobility, Guenter Butschek, managing director and chief executive of Tata Motors, said at a recent conference of the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association that auto makers need to explore new technologies and focus on startups as the industry needs to learn the ability to take risks.
“We need to think beyond products and focus on solutions and new business models. We need to redefine ourselves," said Butschek.
Shared mobility as a concept has different facets to it and ride-sharing is probably one of the main aspects that has become popular in India with companies like Ola and Uber.
In the future, Tata Motors plans to connect with customers in the commercial vehicle space for providing end-to-end connectivity since it offers products across the entire range.
The second person mentioned above said Tata Motors will work in the domain of freight aggregation and as the top commercial vehicle maker, it has the data base of its customers to offer its services.
“Tata Motors will work with a lot of startups in different areas of mobility and provide solutions in the domain of smart mobility solutions," the person said, requesting anonymity. “In passenger vehicle space as well, the company will be working with its customers and other tech companies to provide solutions. This new department will be in charge of all this activities and much more."
According to Avik Chattopadhyay, founder of Expereal, a brand consultancy firm, the new department will likely have a mandate to help Tata Motors connect with the right partners to offer solutions in the mobility space.
“These departments in automobile companies will also try to work with lots of new technologies like AR and VR. Going forward, companies have to look at developing softwares along with the products and for that an entirely new approach is needed which is difficult to build in a traditional manufacturing company," he said.