Nano, not a flop: Ratan Tata at the auto expo in New Delhi
THE NANO is not a flop, its creator Ratan Tata said yesterday, but he acknowledged that his Tata Motors failed to capitalise on the early excitement surrounding the launch of the world’s cheapest car.In a wide-ranging briefing with journalists, Tata, who will retire in December as head of the Tata Group, India’s biggest business house, also said the steel-to-software conglomerate had paid a price for not participating in corruption.Four years ago Tata Motors unveiled the Nano in what was seen at the time to be a crowning achievement for the silver-haired Tata, but sales have trailed far behind early expectations following a series of setbacks.“We never really got our act together when the 100,000 were depleted,” he said, referring to the first batch of Nanos sold through a lottery system when initial demand exceeded supply.“I don’t think we were adequately ready with an advertising campaign, a dealer network,” he said during a two-hour breakfast meeting with journalists on the first day of the India Auto Expo - the same event where a euphoric Tata and his Nano stole the show four years ago.A rising price - the entry level Nano now costs Rs140,000 ($2,657/£1712.92), above the Rs100,000 ($1895.55/£1221.88) initially envisioned - as well as production delays, quality concerns following two voluntary recalls, and a stigma over the car’s “cheap” image have all dented demand.“We’ve never pushed it as a poor man’s car. We pushed it as an affordable all-weather family car" said Tata, 74, who over two decades has built the Tata Group into an $83bn (£53.50) conglomerate that generates two-thirds of its revenue outside of India.While the Nano has failed to live up to expectations, Tata Motors’ $2.3bn (£1.48bn) purchase of luxury car-marker Jaguar Land Rover in 2008 has exceeded them. CLSA recently upgraded Tata Motors to outperform on the outlook for the two British brands.“In sum, I don’t consider it to be a flop. I consider that we have wasted an early opportunity,” said Tata.Tata launched a Nano that runs on compressed natural gas at the car show, but a company official said it is at least a year away from launching a diesel version, which many critics say is key to success for the Nano in a country where petrol costs 56 per cent more than subsidised diesel.The company recently rolled out a 2012 model that is more powerful, gets better mileage, and has improved suspension and steering. It has also stepped up marketing efforts and financing options, and extended dealerships to smaller towns.“I believe that we will see a resurrection of this product as we move forward,” Tata said.Tata was speaking in his first extensive media appearance since the relatively unknown Cyrus Mistry, a family member by marriage and the son of the single largest shareholder in Tata Sons, was named in late November as the next group chairman.Tata said the company still wants to develop a low-cost car for the European and US markets, but such a car will need to be upgraded to meet safety and emissions standards and include the sorts of extras that western consumers demand.
No Comments Posted yet
Do you have comments on this?