H. A. Patgiri
The One Lakh car from Tata Motors launch by Mr. Ratan Tata, in 2009 “Tata Nano” may be considered as an automotive marvel. The car which is currently available in 625 cc rear engine configuration reminded me of a car commissioned by Adulf Hitler to Ferdinand Porsche in April 1934 “The VW Beetle”. The Volkswagen (German for People’s Car) was a rear engine mounted car. It was a simple car to drive and maintain. The simple air cooled boxer engine was very reliable and powerful enough to get the job done. The VW Beetle or affectionately called the “Bug” was popular car till its production ended in June 2003 in Mexico. Over 21 million bugs were produced in about 65 years of its production life.
So, with the above example of VW Beetle; what went wrong with Tata Nano?
Nano which some consider “The People’s Car of 21st Century” suffered from several “blunders” resulting in ever dropping sales. According to me the concept of selling the car at the price tag of One Lakh was not wrong. But marketing should have been done differently. “It’s not a poor man’s car”. Tata Motors provided the Nano at one lakh since it re-engineered the whole car from engine to the three wheel nuts. The base model of Nano should have had exclusivity. Tata Motors should have allowed the car to be sold on limited basis like Ferrari or other super cars. The first time when the car was given out on lottery basis was the correct move according to me. Said that; the car should have had better fit and finish. One must consider there are many people in India who wants to buy a car but cannot afford one, ‘but are not poor man’ since they have motor bikes and scooters or ever can hire Taxi for other transportation needs. The Concept of Poor man’s car is wrong. It’s subjective. I may consider a person owning 2 lakh priced car poor if I can afford 2 core priced car. The base model should have been targeted on this niche market.
But the other two models CX and LX should have been different. According to me, people of India who can afford to buy a car priced sub 2 lakh would arrange that little extra cash needed to buy that 2 lakh car. The two models should not have been called simply Nano. It should have branded differently say “Nano Vista CX and LX”. It should have been more luxurious, with music system, reverse parking sensors, air bag, disc breaks, ABS, better seats low NAV, Electronic Power Steering, Glove boxes, five speed gear box, Power Windows, internally adjustable outdoor rear view mirrors and most importantly that open able boot door. It’s simply not a hatchback without that fifth door. The battery under the driver seat should have been moved to the front and the space available should have been converted to a under seat storage box. They should have been built keeping in mind that people would buy this car as a luxury city car and second car in the family. No one would have bought this car as a “primary car” as it lakes engine power for the highways. Come on now, how many of us drive below 100 Kmph when open stress of road is available in the highways. Driving is all about speed and acceleration. Nano simply lacks both due to its small engine. Then said that; Tata Motors could have fitted a bigger engine. But then it would not have been a Nano!
The Fire Issue.
Tata Motors should have come out to the people of India to speak out about the fire issue. They should have made the investigation reports public. It is not merely a product but hopes and sentiments of a nation on the line.
Along with these, there should have been improvement in car dealers, after sales services, availability of spare parts, accessories and car loan’s particularly keeping young generations in mind.
There are many points that I have missed and I know after publishing of this article many will correct or criticize me. But my sincere effort here is to point out some things that could have been done in making this car successful. This car was truly an effort of Indian automotive engineers in having something new to provide that safe all weather vehicle for Papa, Mama and two children.