New Delhi:The other day, Ratan Tata told Bloomberg TV in an interview that he would like to take another shot at making the Nano successful. He said: “The Nano is something I would love to make successful because I don’t think it’s exploited its full potential right now. There has to be another push to make Nano what it can be.”
We’ve got news for Mr Tata. Firstpost talked to Tata dealers in the capital and most of them say the Nano can’t be lifted out of the ditch unless there is a new Nano—a refreshing new product.
In other words, unless Tata launches new Nano models or spends a significant amount of money in marketing and promotional push, his aspirations for the Nano may remain a mere pipe dream.
The company has been working on a diesel Nano for many months now. But the lower-than-expected sales of the petrol Nano could well hamper the development and launch of the diesel variant, which is slated for launch in the next 12-18 months. Dealers, who are already suffering because of a wide gap between Tata Motors’ initial demand projections for the Nano and the actual offtake, are wary of committing large support for the diesel variant.
Some reports have suggested that Tata Motors was earlier projecting a demand of 2.5 lakh diesel Nanos every year but vendors obviously do not believe these numbers. This has made it difficult for the company to source parts to develop the diesel variant. There has also been talk of a CNG (compressed natural gas) variant, but again, the company has not given a clear timeline for its launch to dealers.
A Tier I supplier to Tata Motors pointed out that despite the car’s quality issues and not-so-happy public perception about being a thing of the past, only about a fifth of the production capacity is being utilised at Sanand in Gujarat even now. This manufacturing plant has an installed capacity to make 20,000 cars a month. Nano’s cumulative sales between April and June were flat at 22,140 units and it sold another 5,485 units in July.
A Delhi-based Tata Motors’ dealer says “in my personal opinion, Tata Motors should not expect too much from the diesel variant. The acquisition cost of a diesel car is higher than petrol and it provides savings only when it is used daily for long distances. If you are a Nano customer, who will use it only to go from your home to your shop or office nearby, it won’t work out to be as viable a proposition as the petrol car”.
Another dealer based in Gurgaon says sales for his dealership have been averaging about 20 Nanos a month for the last one year and no uptick is seen till the festival season, when Tata Motors may announce attractive schemes to lure buyers. This, despite existing attractive finance schemes launched by Tata Motors, which allow a customer to take the car home for less than Rs 20,000 as down payment and EMIs which remain well below the Rs 4,000 mark.There are special incentives too for two-wheeler owners wishing to upgrade to the Nano.
He says people who walk into his showroom do look at the Nano even if they have to come to buy a different Tata car, but frequently ask if there are more variants of the world’s cheapest car which will be available any time soon. “A sort of boredom has come to be associated with the Nano. Unless new launches happen, new platforms are developed around the Nano, this situation is likely to persist”.
A few weeks back, Tata Motors became the first company to launch merchandise of a car on eBay. So now you can buy Nano-branded Titan watches and dry-fit T-shirts, Nano-shaped pen drives, mouse, scale models, caps and key-chains among other things. The company claims that the Tata Nano Facebook page has a fan base of over 1.6 million. If only all of it had translated into sales of the car!
Not just buyer apathy, Tata Motors may have to contend with tougher competition too when the new Maruti Alto is launched before Diwali this year. A vendor who supplies parts to both Maruti and Tata Motors said that Maruti will begin full scale production of the new Alto—which will replace the current Alto F8 (older Alto, not the K10)—next month in Gurgaon. This could further hamper sales of the Nano somewhat even though the price points of the two cars are different.