Tata Motor’s Nano, dubbed the world’s cheapest car, near end of its run

Nano: Masses didn’t want it

Safe, affordable personal transportation for India’s masses had been a quest for Ratan Tata when he brought forth the ultrasimple, ultralow-cost Nano a decade ago.

Tata thought his company’s automotive unit could turn a profit making one-lakh passenger cars — an attention-grabbing round number in India: 100,000 rupees, which came out to about $2,500 at exchange rates.

That was then and this is now. Indeed, a moment of silence, please, for the world’s cheapest car, which has all but died in India. It was almost 10 years old.

The Nano’s death was confirmed by production numbers: Tata Motors produced 1 unit in June, down from 275 in the same month last year. Exports were zero, vs. 25 in June 2017. The company acknowledged that the car — which starts at roughly $3,500 — in its “present form cannot continue beyond 2019.”

Tata: Wanted car for masses

The death of the “people’s car,” as Tata Motors branded it in 2008, holds lessons for automakers hoping to make it in India: While consumers may be value-conscious, cutting costs to the bone in pursuit of a gimmicky claim to fame is no use if the end result is a second-rate vehicle with a tendency to catch fire.

Hailed as a “milestone in frugal engineering,” the Nano fell short on safety, ran behind schedule and produced questionable crash test results.

Tata remains hopeful: A spokesman for the group said the Nano “may need fresh investments to survive.” Yet the evidence suggests that pursuit of the lowest price above all else was misconceived.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here