Tata Nano's marketing should have centred on excellence: Raghunath Mashelkar

Written by PTI | Mumbai | Updated: Feb 2 2014, 21:10pm hrs
Tata Nano TwistTata's Nano faced many obstacles ever since it was conceived in 2003. (AP)
Tata Nano, touted as world's cheapest car when launched in January 2008, is not a "failure" although its sales suffered due to bad marketing, noted scientist and Tata Motors board member Raghunath Mashelkar has said.

Excellence rather than the affordability should have been its USP, he said.

"The Nano is such a great product, it has 86 patents. So, excellence should have been put at the front, and affordability at the back," said Mashelkar, who was recently awarded the Padma Vibhushan, at a gathering of bankers over the weekend here.

Tata's dream car faced many obstacles ever since it was conceived in 2003. Its sales have been dwindling despite many attempts to reposition it.

During the April-October period of the current fiscal, it sold 12,322 units, as against 43,627 in the year-ago period, down 71.7 per cent. The Sanand plant is not running at even the tenth of its 2.5 lakh annual capacity.

Mashelkar stressed that innovation is good only when it is successful as a product. Positioning is very important, and the Nano was presented as an affordable innovation, which meant it was cheap, which put off many customers, he said. "Nobody wants cheap," he said, adding, "Nano is not a failure, I can explain why the volumes are low. You can see them pick up". He exuded confidence in the ongoing repositioning of the car.

"It is repositioning itself completely and there is a lot of buzz, not only in the country (but abroad too) and you will see what will happen in a year's time," he said.

Tata Group emeritus chairman Ratan Tata had admitted in November that Nano's positioning as the world's cheapest car was a mistake and thus the major reason for its poor sales and the group might consider launching it in a new avatar in another country.

"Maybe the Nano gets launched in another country like Indonesia, where it doesn't have the stigma and the new image comes back to India. Or maybe as a changed product that gets marketed in Europe. There's a lot of interest in the Nano outside India," Tata had said.