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New Tata network signs up dealers

MG Rover dealers account for just over 60 per cent of the network, while 20 of the 40-plus original Tata outlets have been retained. Showrooms are a mixture of standalone and multi-franchised, with investment costs in signage and upgrades pegged back at £4500 – Phoenix expects retailers to see a return within three to four months.

A new subsidiary, Phoenix Distribution, has been set up to market the two models launched this month – a facelifted Safari SUV 4x4 and a revised Loadbeta, now called the TL Pick-up. Both will be competitively priced and, combined, are expected to sell around 2000 units next year.

PVH and Tata say this agreement is just the starting point. More variants of the Safari and Loadbeta will be introduced, including petrol versions, while other Tata models could also be brought over from India. These include the C-sector Indigo and Freelander-sized Sumo.

“We want Tata to quickly become a viable and desirable brand in the UK,” says Phoenix Distribution director Stuart Adam. “There are other vehicle derivatives that we can take but we're starting with the models that were already on sale in the UK. There is a lot more yet to come from this deal.”

More retailers will be added to the network as the partnership with Tata grows. The company has pledged to look after new and existing customers who purchased cars under the former distributor MVI.

Administrators for MVI, which collapsed at the end of last year, are still considering whether to progress with legal action against Tata and PVH – claims are pending against both organisations.

Retailers started selling the Safari and TL last week. Both models are aggressively priced. The seven-seat Discovery-sized Safari SUV includes ABS, aircon, electric windows and alloys for £13,995. Phoenix is confident of selling around 800 next year.

The TL pick-up, aimed at self-employed traders, will be priced £7500 to £11,350 (ex VAT). Both vehicles have 89bhp 2.0-litre engines.

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