Johannesburg: India's Tata Motors considers South Africa "strategically extremely important" to grow its footprint in the massive African continent, according to a senior company official.
"As a brand, we would like to be in the top three in any segment or sub-segment that we participate in, in each country that we are in and I think that is how we pick and choose where we are going to be present and how we are going to be present," said head (commercial vehicles) of Tata Motors International Business Rudrarup Maitra.
He said there were six manufacturing units across the African countries, but this could increase in the future.
"The whole of sub-Saharan Africa as well as southern Africa has been key for us for the past 10 to 15 years. We are getting increasingly committed to Africa. I only see this relationship getting deeper," Maitra said.
Maitra along with chief executive officer of Tata Africa Holdings Len Brand and Indian High Commissioner to South Africa Jaideep Sarkar unveiled two new variants of the company's heavy-duty commercial vehicles -- Ultra Plus 1418 and Ultra 814 AMT -- at the Futuroad expo here on Thursday.
Maitra highlighted Tata's commitment to South Africa, where its vehicles have become popular despite the company entering the market only about two decades ago.
"South Africa is strategically extremely important to us if we need to address the African continent, especially Sub-Saharan Africa.
"I think the requirement of each African country is unique but South Africa leads the way in terms of technology and safety norms. That's why I think it's important for us not only to have a base here in South Africa, but to try and succeed sustainably here," Maitra said.
He said North African countries have strong trade ties with the Middle East.
"I think a lot of investments are across the Mediterranean there (North Africa), so we look at Southern, Eastern and Western Africa. In East Africa, Kenya and Tanzania are the larger hubs," he said.
Another important country is Uganda, as we supply a lot of vehicles to the UN Peacekeeping Forces which are headquartered in Uganda itself, Maitra said.
The company presently has around 30 dealers across South Africa, offering full range of services including sales, service and spare parts.
Later, High Commissioner Sarkar commended Tata for its corporate social investment projects in the region.