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Indego / IndeGo Forum / Tata Nano – “one lakh car”

Tata Nano – “one lakh car”

 

Thursday, 10 January 2008 00:00

After four years wait, Tata finally unveiled their “one lakh car” – the Tata Nano, priced (excluding tax and delivery) at one lakh rupees, around US$2,500  http://www.tatanano.com/tatamotors .  Sceptics firstly did not expect them to achieve the price target, and if they did, then only by having a product which was more like a four wheeled motorcycle.  As the price target has been met, and the Nano is clearly a proper car, the sceptics have now turned on the environmental impact of half a million Nanos htting Indian roads every year.


Anyone who has worked or travelled in India as I have will be familiar with the state of the roads.  I know one Indian businessman who treats north and south Mumbai (Bombay as was) as different destinations.  He does not make appointments in both the same day, and changes hotels if has meetings in both parts of the cities on consecutive days.  The traffic is chaotic and mainly stationary.  The pollution is noticeable, but the main culprits seem to be the aging truck and bus population, and the “tuc-tuc” three wheelers, some of which seem to burn more oil than petrol.

Ratan Tata said that he was inspired to develop the Nano by seeing families of four riding around on a motorcycle, and feeling that they deserved a safer method of transport.  This is not an unusual sight, and four is by no means the limit that an Indian can fit on a motorbike.  One one occasion, I saw what appeared to be a house move under way, with a family of five plus various household goods, all on one motorbike, obviously none with helmets.

How much pleasure the new Nano owners will get from their cars, as they sit (without air conditioning) in an even bigger traffic jam, rather than weaving through on their overloaded motorbike, I don’t know.  However, I do know that around the world everyone places a high priority on personal mobility, and the Tata team are to be applauded for delivering a viable car at this price level.

It emphasises how car companies have got onto a vicious circle of adding feature and performance, much of which the customer does not want or use, and in doing so building in more complexity and cost.  In the IndeGo concept, we felt that too much emphasis was placed on performance and handling, and not enough on the features that might deliver real value to the typical customer every day – more High Street, less Nurburgring!

The development approach also in part reflects that proposed for IndeGo. Around 100 suppliers were involved from the start of the project, and were given responsibility for coming up with lighter, smaller, cheaper solutions to providing targeted functionality.  The result is a car which weighs only 580kg, accommodates five people and sells for $2,500.  Expect to see high sales of Nano to global competitors and an increasing trend for “less is more” in future new car launches.
 

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