Ratan Tata, on Thursday, shared a picture of himself and his budget-friendly invention, Nano. The industrialist says the desire to make road travel safer for Indian families is what “really motivated” him to produce the car. But Elite India Outrightly Rejected Nano.
People’s car Tata Nano
Ratan Tata’s Nano first arrived in markets back in January of 2008. The car was Ratan Tata’s dream project and was developed to be cost-effective and affordable to all Indians irrespective of their socio-economical class.
The inspiration developed when the industrialist once saw a family of four on a single bike in the heavy Bombay rains. After seeing that, he wanted more for these families who were risking their lives due to the lack of an alternative. That inspired him to create the Nano, an affordable car that could be purchased by most Indian families.
With this, Tata Motors officially launched Nano on January 10, 2008. In the packed hall, Ratan Tata came up on the stage and said that everyone had been referring to the Nano as a ‘1 lakh car’. He added thereafter that “a promise was a promise” and announced that the Nano base variant would be priced at Rs 1 lakh. The crowd thereafter went into a craze along with the rest of the world.
Years have passed since this event but today the traces of that ‘dream project’ is nowhere to be found since Tata Motors pulled the plug on the Nano during the 2018-19 fiscal year as sales started to descend.
Why did the Nano car fail?
The word failure is generally not something we associate with the Tata Group. But Nano was one such invention that the industry couldn’t pull off. So, what went wrong with Nano?
Well, firstly, several Nano cars caught fire in the initial two years. People were worried about their safety. Even though Tata Motors fixed the glitches and offered an extended warranty for the cars but the reputational damage was done.
Secondly, it was low on riding comfort, lacking the resilience that greater weight gives. Thirdly, buyers felt that owning the “cheapest” was to acquire a lowly social status. Instead of being a people’s car it actually had a low appeal among the trendy.
Finally, Nano was never the “one lakh” car, as was originally indicated by Ratan Tata whose brainchild it was. Over time the gap between the Nano and the cheapest car in the market narrowed. Later in 2017, the lowest on-the-road price of a Nano was quoted at Rs 2.59 lakh, compared to the cheapest Alto 800 going at Rs 2.88 lakh. This proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the Tata Nano.
After declining sales for a few years, the production of the Nano was stopped in 2019. It remains one of the biggest disappointments of the Tata Group. It must have been a big lesson for the company to show that even the unfailing Tatas can make mistakes and have failures. Hopefully, this will be a discounted event and not be repeated in the various other initiatives the Tatas are involved in future.
Ratan Tata remembers Nano
It has been 4 years since the company stopped producing the Tata Nano cars and Ratan Tata went back in time and brought back a million-dollar picture of himself and a few other colleagues with his company’s budget-friendly invention, Nano. The picture, which is from the launch event at the 9th Auto Expo in 2008, features the former Chairman of Tata Sons posing with the car. Sharing the picture on Instagram, Ratan Tata revealed what motivated him to launch it.
“What really motivated me, and sparked a desire to produce such a vehicle, was constantly seeing Indian families on scooters, maybe the child sandwiched between the mother and father, riding to wherever they were going, often on slippery roads,” he wrote.
However, launching a budget-friendly car was not initially on the agenda. “One of the benefits of being in the School of Architecture, it had taught me to doodle when I was free. At first we were trying to figure out how to make two wheelers safer, the doodles became four wheels, no windows, no doors, just a basic dune buggy. But I finally decided it should be a car. The Nano, was always meant for all our people,” Ratan Tata added.