Some might say that when Ratan Tata started on the Nano, it was an over ambitious plan. A full-spec production car that could be sold for a lakh was absurd even in the 2000s. Despite all misgivings and bumps along the way, Tata did manage to launch the Nano in 2009, and they did sell the Nano for a brief period at the promised one lakh price point. The word of the world’s cheapest production car spread like wildfire and elevated the Nano to celebrity status across the globe. The problem was at the end of it, the Nano was exactly as says on the box “the World’s Cheapest Car”, and as the novelty wore off the Nano, once an iconic car that shook the world, faded into oblivion both in terms of visibility and sales.
Later, in order to make the Nano safe and reliable, Tata Motors launched a new model christened the Tata Nano Twist. The Nano Twist was targeted towards the youth in accordance with its fun and peppy outlook. In 2015, made a final attempt at restoring the Nano’s dated outlook, with the Nano GenX that for the first time got an easy shift (AMT) gearbox. GenX is still on sale and is priced between Rs 2.25 lakh and Rs 3.20 lakh. A long way from its original 1 lakh Rupee price tag. Yet the Nano continued to struggle in terms of sales. It wasn’t always like this, the month the Nano was launched it put a 20% dent in Maruti 800 sales selling 30,000 between its launch in 2009 and 2010. In 2017 only 7,000 odd Nanos made it to the road. It was a two-pronged problem, for one the ever evolving and aspirational Indian buyer doesn’t want to be associated with a car, whose claim to fame is its cost effectiveness. That aside competition in the form of the Renault Kwid, the Datsun RediGo and the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, are leagues ahead of the Nano in terms of design, features and safety. Which left Tata with the difficult decision of whether to retain the Nano’s production or to simply pull the plug on its 8-year run and say goodbye. Luckily for the Nano, Tata has announced that they will not pull the plug on the icon yet, with the board insisting it be retained in the portfolio.
This means that Tata now has to re-evaluate how they are going to breathe life back into this tired Marquee. Following Tata Motors COO Satish Borwankar carefully worded statement that indicated that while the Nano’s current production wasn’t a viable solution. He further hinted towards an Electric Nano, which we first saw in 2010’s Geneva Motor Show. Obviously, this is not something Tata is considering out of the blue, and with today’s electric powered technology where it is, an E-Nano would seem like a great idea. With the right amount of range, a good motor and a great price point the Tata Nano might still see its days in the sun. Not to mention that Tata would get a great head start on their own EV portfolio.