Going West Tata Motors Could Delay Push Into Europe

The current political environment is making India's largest auto maker, Tata Motors, think twice about moving into the European or U.S. market, its CEO tells Handelsblatt Global.
Tata Motors' CEO Guenter Butschek at the launch of Hexa in Mumbai earlier this year.

Günter Butschek may be German-born, but that doesn’t mean the chief executive of India’s Tata Motors is planning a push into Europe any time soon.

In an interview with Handelsblatt Global at the Asia Business Insights conference in Düsseldorf this week, Mr. Butschek said Tata Motors won’t be ready to enter the European or U.S. markets until at least 2020, at least not with its core brands.

India's largest car maker produces Tata Daewoo and Tata Hispano vehicles and also owns Jaguar-Land Rover but runs the latter subsidiary independently. The company is present in over 170 countries already but that does not include Germany.

And they won't be a major presence in Europe any time soon either. That’s partly due to regulations in India that are easier on polluting emissions. Regulations in India won’t catch up to the West until the end of this decade.


Video: India's Tata Motors, like many Indian companies, may focus on opportunities closer to home in future.


But the current political environment could also play a role in whether Tata takes the plunge, as much of the Western world seems to be trending toward protectionism and increasingly skeptical of “foreign” carmakers taking a slice of the market. U.S. President Donald Trump has made it clear that carmakers producing in the U.S. will get priority.

That, too, could impact Tata Motors’ decision to move west in future, Mr. Butschek conceded at the Handelsblatt-organized conference. While he says his company definitely wants to become more global and less reliant on India, he may be inclined to look for more opportunities in his own backyard.

“The overall geopolitical change teaches you to elaborate on opportunities which are possibly much closer to your doorstep,” he said. “We need to become global. The question is where, how, by when.”

That's a question that will face many Indian and other Asian companies over the coming years. Long-reliant on the domestic market, fast-growing India is looking to boost its exports. Whether the United States or Europe will benefit from that, or whether other Asian countries will become the focus, remains to be seen.


Christopher Cermak is an editor with Handelsblatt Global based in Berlin. To contact the author: [email protected]