NEW DELHI: As the Tatra trucks ran into the thick of storm following allegations of kickbacks being paid to clinch the order of the Army, the Vectra Limited - a majority shareholder in Tatra Sipox - has launched an aggressive public relations campaign to redeem its sullied image.
The new strategy of the Vectra, whose head Ravi Rishi is facing a CBI probe in the Tatra scam, entailed hiring a public relations firm in the capital some 20-25 days back. The otherwise media shy Vectra has also carried out full-and-a-half page advertisements in major daily newspapers underlining the salient features of the trucks - 7,000 of which are in service with the Indian Army and several thousands in the US and Israeli Army.
The Tatra trucks are the backbone of the Army as its whole missile systems and Cold Start Strategy to mobilise troops swiftly is based on these trucks, with flexible axle - ‘the only-of-its-kind in the world for on-road and off-road application’.
So far unknown to the civilians in the country, this aggressive campaign dubbing Tatra as ‘The best in the world’ seems to be hovering around pegging the trucks as the one-of-its-kind and also a key player in the civilian segment.
Under the new strategy, Defence journalists were also sent out lengthy note titled ‘Allegations versus facts’. Countering the allegations of overpricing, Vectra said: “Tatra Sipox (UK) sold to the BEML (the public sector undertaking assembling the trucks for the Army). The price between the BEML and the MoD (Ministry of Defence) is not controlled by Tatra.” “At no time full trucks were sold to the BEML. The parts and components were sold as per normal company prices,” Vectra said.
The firm also dismissed the allegations about the trucks being not indigenised enough as Tatra trucks were still left-hand drive.
“Actually 60 per cent of the truck are now indigenised.
Furthermore, the 4x4 and 6x6 are right - hand drive. The 10x10 and 12x12 were specifically designed for India’s missile programme by Tatra. The 8x8 trucks were never made a right-hand drive because of the small irregular demand cycle by Indian Armed Forces would not have justified the heavy investment needed to change the technical dynamics of the truck,” contended Vectra.