Assuring safety: A Nano car at display in a showroom
INDIA’S top vehicle maker Tata Motors offered free safety upgrades for the world’s cheapest car, the Nano, yesterday after the hatchback suffered a series of fires.
However, the company said it wanted to assure the more than 70,000 Nano owners in India “there are no generic defects” in the car which retails for around $2,500 (£1548.68) and was launched last year on Indian roads.
The upgrade will involve new safety features being added to the exhaust and electrical system, the company said in a statement.
“Tata Motors is not recalling Nanos,” the company said, adding it was up to customers to decide whether they wanted to take advantage of the offer.
About half a dozen fires have been reported involving the four-door car, but there have been no injuries.
The company said an investigation by a team of internal and international experts concluded the reasons for the fires were “specific to the cars which had such incidents” rather than being a general fault.
“The Tata Nano is a safe car with a robust design, state of the art components and built with an uncompromising attention to quality,” the company said.
In some of the cars hit by fires, “foreign” equipment had been installed in the electrical or exhaust systems, Tata Motors said.
Tata Motors chief executive Carl-Peter Forster said earlier this week the automaker planned to install a cover on the catalytic converter and fuses for electrical components to avoid short circuits in new models.
A company spokeswoman said she could not say how much Tata Motors expected the upgrades to cost the company.
“It could affect demand, especially if it pushes up the price which is its USP (unique selling point) which is already taking a bit of a beating,” said Bharat Gianani, equity analyst at Asit C Mehta.
The company just announced plans for a four-per cent price increase to cope with the higher cost of raw materials.
The Nano has sparked a race among global carmakers to create other low-cost cars for the fast-growing Indian market.
The company said it believed that as it sold more Nanos in India’s rural heartland, "the Tata Nano will be bought increasingly by users in the hinterlands not fully familiar with cars”.
“Taking all this into account, we have decided to make the car even more robust. We will do this by providing additional protection in the exhaust system and the electrical system,” the company said.
The company will start offering the free upgrades in the third week of November.
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