The 1 lakh car!
The most revolutionary vehicle in the history of the world!
The cheapest vehicle made on this planet!
A vehicle which could move India into the top of the ranks of auto manufacturing hubs in the world!
While talking about “Tata Nano”, all of us sometime or the other must have said the above statements to our friends and families. But two years after Ratan Tata’s first announcement of his dream to see every India owning a car, Nano has brought more harm to their image rather than anything else.
Nano was supposed to be the cheapest car at a price of Rs 1 lakh. It aimed to woo the segment of buyers who opted for a bike to pay a few thousand bucks and own a car. With cute looks, basic features and some innovative engineering, Nano was able to woo one and all. More than 2 lakh people pre–registered for the car without even testing it! Now that may be something of a first. Isn’t it? Pre–hype anyone?
But then from there it was all downhill. The Singur agitation due to Mamta Banerjee caused the closure of that plant and movement of the Tata’s to finally Sanand in Gujarat. Along with increasing costs, this also resulted in a lot of loss of time for the people who had already pre–booked their vehicles.
At Sanand itself there were problems and the capacity was really low. This resulted in hugely delayed deliveries. When people started using the car was the time the real problems started coming to the fore.
First there were incidents of Nano’s catching fire due to faulty wiring and manufacturing defects. Then came the complaints about its engine making a lot of noise. Now interestingly the engine is that of a 4 – stroke motorbike like Activa at the bottom of the vehicle rather than the front. Is that the way it should have been designed? I don’t think so!
There have also been problems related to arrangement of the finance since 2-wheeler financiers categorise it as a car. The lengthy booking process as one has to still order it from the dealers is another headache. The production of Nano has come down by 80% at the plant.
Nano was positioned as a vehicle for the people who bought a bike so that they could spend a bit more to get a car. But sadly due to the above problems, this has not really happened. Many people don’t perceive it as a car as it looks more like a toy. And if we analyse an Indian consumer, he / she always likes to show off his / her purchase.
The drop in sales continuously for a period of four months from the high of 9,000 units in July to a low of 509 units in November (lower than Mercedes) has set the alarm bells ringing among the who’s who at Tata Motors.
Reducing the lengthy booking process by setting up a large number of kiosks at dealerships in rural areas is a very important step Tata is willing to take. They also have plans to soon start selling Nano directly from the showroom which would make it easier for people to avoid the very high waiting time.
Tata is also partnering with banks and other financial institutions to better help customers in arranging and managing the finance. For certain categories, they would also be able to exchange their bikes in retain for a Nano.
But then all this is ok. These are all measures which may not help in the long term. Tata has to find a way to get rid of the fact that people find Nano unsafe due to the incidents of it catching fire. When it was being made, everyone was left wondering as to how a car can come so cheap. There were murmurs of cheap equipment being used.
And now Tata’s core values of TRUST and QUALITY look set to be in the line of fire if they don’t do something about this soon!
Nano can rise from the depths but for that actions have to speak louder than words!