How the Indian affordable car innovation Tata Nano could’ve had happier times: Why it flopped

With one unit built last month, and only three sold, does this mark the end of the Tata Nano or could it see a metaphoric rise from the ashes in a new electric avatar? Read more to find out!

By: | Updated: July 5, 2018 5:47 PM
Ratan Tata and Narendra Modi, at the Sanand Plant as the first Tata Nano rolled off the line.

 

Little more than a decade since its debut at the 2008 Auto Expo, Tata’s car for the people is fading away into oblivion with just one unit of the Nano being built in June 2018. While Tata Motors still stands by the Nano, the decision as to whether the Nano should continue production or not is still left hanging. The fact that Tata only sold only three Nano cars in June 2018 as compared to 167 in the same month last year testifies Nano’s terminal condition. The story continues in International markets where demand for the Nano has dwindled so severely that not even one unit of the Nano was exported this year. Tata Motors responded to PTI with a statement saying that they are well aware of the Nano’s inevitable demise by 2019, unless bolstered by fresh investments. That said, there has been no clear decision in this regard. The Spokesperson further insisted that Tata would continue, in the meanwhile, to cater to “key markets”, although no key markets have been specified.

Even with the added premium and renewed dynamics the GenX Nano still failed to impress an aspiration market

The Nano, which just could not live up to the hype that surrounded it ahead of its launch, was plagued by initial quality concerns and incorrect marketing strategies that ultimately led to the Nano’s current disposition. The largest problem was the ‘Cheapest Car’ tag that it was known as. The strategy failed miserably at changing or correcting this consumer perception, setting the benchmark for how not to market a car in an aspirational and young market like India. Whatever little was left of public interest, went up in flames as word of the Nano catching fire spread. The Nano was and is a safer car than a few other small hatchbacks but its design created the general misconception of it being unsafe and once again the marketing department could do little to correct this perception.

Also Watch our video comparo of between the Tata Nexon and the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza:

However, things could have been quite different for the Tata Nano in our opinion. The Tata Nano had the makings of a smart city get-about that was easy to park, economical to own and safe to drive. In our opinion, Tata should have cut its losses early on and should have re-launched the Gen-X Nano with a completely overhauled motor and new branding. This should have been complemented with a premium-ish brand re-targeted at city-dwellers looking for a second car rather than targeting the two-wheeler user.

The Nano then is bound to meet an end, the question remains as to whether this is the last that we will see of Ratan Tata’s dream project? We think otherwise. The Nano might still rise from the ashes, in the form of an electric car branded as the Jayem Neo. A result of Tata’s strategic alliance with Jayem Automotive, a long standing R&D partner of Tata that was responsible for a slew of Tata based performance machines like the V6 powered Tata Indica Silhouette and the Super Nano. Jayem will also be responsible for the soon to launch Tata Jayem Tata Performance badged Tigor and Tiago.

Can a Jayem Neo pick up where the Nano left off, and continue Ratan Tata’s dreams of building a car for the people. One will have to wait and see, a conversation with our sources at Jayem Auto revealed that the Neo is still very much on schedule. As battery costs come down and the government continues its drive towards promoting and subsidizing electric cars, the Neo might be a strong contender in India’s electric future.

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