Mumbai: Tata Motors Ltd, India’s largest vehicle maker, has hired Mayank Pareek, a former top executive of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, to head its passenger vehicle business unit, giving him the responsibility to turn around the struggling business.

He will join the company on 1 October and will take over from Ranjit Yadav, who will now head the international business for passenger and commercial vehicles.

“He (Pareek) is a very tough task master and extremely performance-oriented," said a Maruti Suzuki official, who declined to be named. Pareek, who was chief operating officer for sales and marketing at India’s top car maker, quit the company on 26 September.

It is perhaps these qualities that persuaded Cyrus Mistry, chairman of the $100 billion Tata group, to entrust Pareek with the task of reviving the fortunes of Tata Motor’s beleaguered car business. Pareek will become president of the passenger car business unit on Monday.

The 20-year Maruti veteran is credited with making the company a household name across the country. Pareek will be part of the steering committee formed by Mistry to run the operations in the absence of a managing director.

Pareek is joining Tata Motors at a time when the company has been ceding ground to rival car makers. The company is looking at charting a new course—the path laid by late Karl Slym, then managing director at the firm—with the so-called Horizon Next strategy, which includes a focus on design and development of contemporary new models that can be benchmarked against the best in the industry and quality sales and after-sales services.

In line with its strategy to roll out new models till 2020, Tata Motors introduced the Zest sedan last month. It was the first major launch by the company in the passenger car segment after the small car Nano was introduced in July 2008. Tata Motors has received bookings in the range of 18,000-20,000 units for the Zest model, according to people familiar with the development, who declined to be named. The company has not disclosed sales numbers for the model.

In the five months to August, Tata Motors’ passenger vehicle sales declined 33% to 58,697 units from 88,709 units a year ago. Its market share dropped to 5% from 9% a year ago in the same period, according to data compiled by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, a lobby group.

“He (Pareek) would have to prove his capability in a very short span of time. Innovative marketing ideas would help as product related strategy would at least take four years," said Puneet Gupta, principal analyst at sales forecasting and market research firm IHS Automotive.

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