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Tata hires Airbus heavyweight to steer company’s fortunes

INDIA largest car maker Tata Motors has turned to former Airbus Group executive Guenter Butschek to stem the red ink on its books.

Butschek, who will start his new job by mid Ferbruary replaces Karl Slym, who died in a hotel fall in January 2014.

Following investigation, the Bangkok police said that Slym had committed suicide by jumping to death from his hotel room.

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Butschek will lead Tata Motors’ business in India and in international markets including South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and South Africa, the company said in a statement.

The 55-year-old German was chief operating officer at Airbus until December 2014. He has also worked at Daimler AG where he was last chief executive of Beijing Benz Automotive.

Butschek has the task of turning around the truck and carmaker, which excluding its main Jaguar Land Rover unit, reported losses in five of the past seven quarters through September.

Tata Motors has introduced new passenger vehicle models in India as it seeks to regain lost market share.

“Tata Motors needs to ask the question why the customers no longer even consider the brand and new launches have not steadied the ship,” Deepesh Rathore, director at Emerging Markets Automotive Advisors based in London, told Reuters. “It is a good question for the CEO to ask right at the start.”

Ralf Speth will continue to be chief executive officer of Tata’s luxury unit Jaguar Land Rover.

Tata’s Nano made headlines after it was unveiled in 2008 as the world’s cheapest car. It was intended to be a safe upgrade for the millions of families who crowd four (or more) onto two-wheelers in India.

Between April and December, Tata Motors’ domestic passenger vehicle sales fell 2 per cent to about 112,030 while total industry sales rose 9 per cent to over 2 million vehicles, industry data showed.

To boost sales, Tata Motors is focusing more on quality and design that it hopes will help shed its ‘taxi car’ image.

“Tata Motors is going through an exciting yet challenging phase and Mr Butschek’s appointment comes at an opportune moment,” Cyrus Mistry, Tata Motors’ chairman said in the statement.

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