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Home / ANALYSIS / Does the Prima 4x2 truck live up to Tata's claims?

Does the Prima 4x2 truck live up to Tata's claims?

by James Morgan on Jul 15, 2014




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Boasting low price tags, high-end build specifications, and generous warranties, Tata is confident that its Prima truck range will put European competitors on the back foot.

In an attempt to find out whether the Indian truck maker’s claims are justified, James Morgan speaks with the manufacturer, its UAE dealer, and the first Prima owner in the Middle East.

On paper, Tata’s Prima range of trucks represents the stuff of nightmares for Europe’s premium-end manufacturers. Firstly, there’s the price. A brand new Prima 4x2 tractor head will cost UAE fleet operators approximately 40% less than an equivalent European model.

Secondly, there’s the build quality, which Tata claims is comparable to that of its Western competitors. Thirdly – and perhaps most importantly – is the Prima’s warranty period, which spans either three years or 300,000km; whichever comes first.

Whilst a number of Prima 4x2 tractor heads have already been sold in the UAE market, the full range of Prima trucks isn’t yet available in the Middle East; the Prima 6x4 and 8x4 rigid-frame tippers are scheduled to arrive in the region before the end of 2014.

Eager to find out whether the range lives up to the bold claims of its manufacturer, I visited the showroom of United Diesel, Tata’s authorised dealer for Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

“The Tata Prima 4x2 tractor head forms part of the next generation of trucks from Tata Motors,” explained Rajsinh Kadam, assistant sales manager at United Diesel.

“The first vehicle was delivered to the UAE at the end of December 2013, and began working shortly after in January 2014. We’ve received a very good response from the market already. One of the truck’s major selling points is that it comes with a three-year, 300,000km warranty – a reflection of the confidence that Tata has in the Prima range,” he said.

In truth, the Prima range represents somewhat of a departure for the Indian truck and bus manufacturer. Traditionally, Tata has delivered attractively priced, reliable vehicles for customers willing to forego the occasional mod con. The latest models, however, are being touted by Tata as premium trucks without the premium price tag.

“It is widely known that Tata has the price advantage over its competitors,” said Kadam. “However, with the Prima range, the manufacturer has striven to provide specifications equal to those offered by its European competitors. The 4x2 tractor head, for example, features a Cummins diesel engine and an Eaton gearbox. Moreover, you can see that the truck looks fantastic. The cabin was designed in Italy; it’s awesome.

“Despite the premium nature of this truck, Tata has succeeded in keeping its price approximately 40% lower than the equivalent European models. Depending on the options selected by the customer, a Prima 4x2 tractor will cost approximately AED 220,000 (less than $60,000). To buy the equivalent model from a European manufacturer, you would have to pay upwards of AED 380,000 (more than $100,000),” he explained.

With such a significant price difference, some might be sceptical of Tata’s claims that it has succeeded in matching the build quality offered by premium-end European manufacturers. However, Gurshaman Singh, Tata Motors’ area manager for the UAE and Oman, says that the secret lies in the company’s production strategy.

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