India’s largest truck and bus maker Tata Motors on Tuesday named former General Motors India president and managing director Karl Slym as its managing director, ending a two-month speculation after the departure of former chief PM Telang.
The move indicates a push towards the passenger vehicle segment from Tata Motors, days after outgoing chairman Ratan Tata told shareholders it was a matter of “shame” that Tata Motors had fallen behind Mahindra & Mahindra in the passenger vehicle segment. “I have great respect for what Mahindra & Mahindra has been able to do. I also have a certain degree of sadness and shame that we have let that happen,” Tata told the 67th AGM of the country’s largest auto company.
Karl Slym will lead operations of Tata Motors in India and international markets even as luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover will continue to be independently managed. He joins the company on October 1.
Slym took charge of General Motors in India in 2007 at a time when it faced turbulence in developed markets.
It had discontinued the unsuccessful Opel brand in India, just before Slym took over. During his tenure, Slym oversaw the launch of new models like the Spark, Beat, Cruze and Captiva, which were priced competitively, without compromising on quality. The new models established India as a key market for the American giant even as it filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and exited several global markets and partnerships. In 2009, Slym also oversaw a change in partner for the Indian operations by replacing Hindustan Motors selecting its Chinese partner SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation). In 2012, GM moved Slym to China to head its largest international operation as the executive vice-president of its joint venture with SAIC and Wuling Motors.
“He (Slym) has put GM in a strong position for continued success in a market that we have made a global priority,” Tim Lee, GM president, (international operations) had said at the time of Slym’s transfer to China.
Tata Motors investors will be hoping for a similar revival in the passenger vehicle segment. The car maker’s shares on the BSE jumped 2.83% immediately after the announcement to Rs 233.60. The stock closed at Rs 234.90, up 2.85%.
At the end of the June quarter, the market share of Tata Motors in the car segment stood under 10% at 9.8%. It commands 65% market share in the commercial vehicles segment.