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RIP Tata Nano. World’s cheapest car goes up in smoke

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Mumbai :A moment of silence, please, for the world’s cheapest car, which has all but died in India. It was almost 10 years old.
The Nano’s death was confirmed by production numbers: Tata Motors Ltd. produced 1 unit in June, down from 275 in the same month last year. Exports were zero, versus 25 in June 2017. The company acknowledged that the car in its “present form cannot continue beyond 2019.”
The expiry of the “people’s car,” as Tata Motors branded it in 2008, holds lessons for automakers hoping to make it in India: While consumers may be value-conscious, cutting costs to the bone in pursuit of a gimmicky claim to fame is no use if the end result is a second-rate vehicle with a tendency to catch fire.
The Nano’s failure to sell stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Indian car market. From motorbikes to cars and trucks, growth in every segment is picking up. Passenger vehicles, including SUVs, jumped 38% in June. Commercial vehicles climbed 42%, while two-wheelers – which dominate the market – gained 22%.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the nation’s biggest carmaker, posted volume growth of more than 40%. Even a newly defined segment, the quadricycle – a vehicle that weighs less than 475 kilos – is showing signs of an uptick.
This is a market where electric vehicles are non-existent and the chatter over fancy ideas such as future mobility and autonomous vehicles, which pervades the rest of the auto world, is muted.
Still, Indian automakers have tried to get innovative. A widely held view is that they have largely misread the value-oriented psyche of a proud and aspirational middle-class, which scorns handout-like product propositions.
The much-touted Nano – hailed as a “milestone in frugal engineering” – fell short on safety, ran behind schedule and produced questionable crash test results. Eicher Motors Ltd.’s Multix pickup truck that doubled up as an electricity generator was also unsuccessful. Both companies have written off millions of dollars in investment costs.
Tata remains hopeful: A spokesman for the group said the Nano “may need fresh investments to survive.” Yet the evidence suggests that pursuit of the lowest price above all else was misconceived. A more realistic view is that India is squarely a high-volume, few-models game and consumers are focused on value – which means getting as many features as possible for their money.
Large numbers haven’t led to price wars yet, and probably won’t for a while. Indeed, India’s car market has the brightest profitability outlook globally, according to Nomura Holdings Inc. analysts.
Take Hyundai Motor Co., for instance, which has the second-biggest market share after Maruti Suzuki. With some input costs rising, the South Korean carmaker has raised prices of several models and, after decades in India, has started repositioning itself as a high-end brand.
Maruti Suzuki is following a similar trajectory. The company has begun churning out higher-margin vehicles, with its Baleno, DZire and Brezza models now accounting for a larger part of the sales mix than the more basic Alto and Wagon-R.


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Income Tax return processing time to reduce from 63 days to just 1 day

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Mumbai:The Union Cabinet approved an integrated income-tax e-filing and centralised processing centre (CPC) portal, which will reduce the return processing time from 63 days to just one day. The new portal is also expected to process the refunds within one day of filing of tax returns, in huge relief for taxpayers. However, one will have to wait for 18 months to see its launch.

“Earlier, taxpayers would face troubles because of delay in refund processing and the CBDT used to spend a lot of money every year as interest on pending refunds, which will be history now,” Union minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

Last month, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra had said a simplified return form and process would be put in place soon in which the department would process the self-declaration made by the taxpayer. The new Rs 4,241-crore project will incorporate these changes.

 

“This is a laudable initiative and will go a long way to ease tax compliance, and enhanced experience for taxpayers. However, the real success of this will be measured when it brings ease to a common man and is accompanied by changes in the culture of the tax authorities at the operational level,” said Neeru Ahuja, partner, Deloitte India.

Currently, the e-filing portal and the CPC work separately. While e-filing is being managed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the CPC is run by Infosys.

In the bids invited by the government, Infosys emerged as the lowest bidder and it would develop the ITR-CPC 2.0 project in 18 months from now, Goyal said.

Under the new system, Infosys will handle end-to-end solution — from e-filing to return assessment to refund processing. The CBDT and Infosys would work in a revenue-sharing model, sources in the know said.

Goyal said ramping up scrutiny was not the mandate of the new portal. Currently, about 0.3 per cent of the I-T returns are scrutinised, he said. The system intends to resolve taxpayer grievances as well as tax demands from the CBDT faster and equitably, he said.

“The decision will ensure horizontal equity by processing returns filed by all categories of taxpayers across the country in a consistent, uniform, rule driven, identity blind manner. This will assure fairness in tax treatment to every taxpayer irrespective of their status,” a government release said.

But even under the new ecosystem, only those applications which are clean would have the chance of getting processed in a day, sources said.

About 23 crore I-T returns have been processed, along with Rs 2.62 trillion worth of refunds, till September 2018 cumulatively. Of this, refunds worth Rs 1.83 trillion have been processed in 2018-19, said Goyal.

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Lenders considering resolution plan for Jet Airways: SBI

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Mumbai: State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday said lenders are considering a resolution plan for Jet Airways to ensure long-term viability of the debt-laden company.

The SBI statement comes a day after the crisis-hit airline said discussions were “progressing well” with stakeholders on a comprehensive resolution plan that also contemplates equity infusion and consequent changes in its board of directors.

There are rising concerns over financial health of Jet Airways, whose shares have also taken a beating at stock exchanges.

 

“We would like to state that lenders are considering a restructuring plan under the RBI framework for resolution of stressed assets that would ensure a long-term viability of the company,” SBI said in a statement.

It said the restructuring plan for the cash-strapped airline would need approval from boards of lenders.

“Any such plan would be subject to approval of boards of the lenders and subject to adherence and clearance, if required, from the RBI and/or Sebi (takeover code, ICDR regulations.) and Ministry of Civil Aviation and in compliance with all regulatory prescriptions,” the statement said.

Shares of the airline are trading 4.24 per cent lower at Rs 259.50 apiece on BSE.

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NGT slams Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore as per its 2018 order

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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5 PM Friday.

“Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after deposit.

 

The tribunal deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.

On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of ”cheat device” by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

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