Tata Nano (Not actual size) (Photo:tatamotors.com)
Indian carmaker Tata Motors will sell its much touted minicar Nano in the United States by 2015, Automotive News’s Diana T. Kurylko has reported.
Nano is a 122-inch long, two cylinder, 37 horsepower car. Or in other words, it is small enough for US car dealers to offer it as a free lunch box with their other standard sized cars. Perhaps the dealers could entice prospective buyers of Lincoln Navigator with Nano as a free toy.
Tata Motors boss Ratan Tata has been quoted as saying that Nano is being redesigned for the US and European markets. He also says that the new Nano will be more sophisticated with a bigger engine, power windows and traction control. Or in other words, what is sold in India is essentially a Dalda tin with four wheels, at least two of them revolve together at the same speed. I saw a Tata Nano going at its top speed yesterday as I whizzed past it on foot.
Tata knows Nano cannot be what it is in India and expect to clear US safety and environmental standards, let alone enter the market and sell. In order to make it US worthy he has to do things which are bound to increase the retail price. Tata said the new Nano will be priced under 10,000 dollars. What he did not say was that it would not cost in the range of about $3000 which is the price for the no-frills basic model in India and the one that has not made any significant inroads. There are some reports that it may be priced at around $8000.
My snide response apart,there is a market for smaller cars in America. With gas prices spiraling up in the US, I have noticed a discernible shift in American car buying habits with many customers becoming open to smaller cars. With some smart packaging Tata can actually sell Nano fairly well in certain segments such as among the younger demographic.
I doubt if the average American buyer would be aware of how poorly Nano has done in India despite its low price. And with Nano being updated to bring it in line with US car buyers’ minimum expectations, it stands a good chance to live up to some of its hype when it was first introduced in 2009.