Tata Motors is heading for red-hot Indonesia for its Nano journey. Chances are that on the way, the automaker may give Thailand a miss. Negotiations are currently on with a leading Indonesian automobile company to seal a deal for the production of its no-frills car which has caught popular imagination in more ways than one.
Clearly, Indonesia has all the aces. The rate at which it's growing can give many countries a complex. The ease of doing business here is another pull factor. The Bangkok Post went ahead on Monday and said the country is fast emerging as a clear choice for production of Tata Nano. Thailand, it added, was in contention to make the Nano since the Indian auto-maker has been producing its Xenon and Ace light trucks at its factory in Samut Prakanin since 2009.
What has apparently tilted the scales in favour of Indonesia is a set of attractive incentives. That has prompted Tata to put the expansion plan in Thailand in deep freeze, the paper said, quoting unnamed sources. Quoting the source, the paper added that Tata was concerned about political stability in the country and also found the local automobile tax structure discouraging.
The Indian company is now said to be in talks with PT Astra International, Indonesia's leading automobile company, to produce the car. Tata was one of seven manufacturers looking to develop eco-car projects in Thailand, but it scrapped the plan because of concerns about an unfavourable tax structure and the requirement to produce at least 100,000 cars a year by the fifth year of operation.
A Tata spokesman said at the time that the company wanted to build a highly fuel-efficient and environment-friendly car in Thailand that would be suited to Thai consumers' needs. However, it probably would not be the Nano.
The source confirmed, however, that Tata would launch a Nano imported from India by the end of this year at the Thailand International Motor Expo to build consumer awareness about Tata's passenger car brand before the cars are actually built in Indonesia. The deliveries would start early next year.
The Nano to be marketed in Thailand will come with a 600-cc engine, but with enhanced performance and speed to meet Thais' preferences. The top speed will be raised to 120 km/h from 105 km/h, the top speed for the Indian model.
The model to be sold in Thailand will also have more features, including power windows and air conditioning, as standard equipment. Earlier, Tata planned to introduce a premium variant called the Nano Europa in Thailand, but it concluded that adding more features, including power steering and ABS braking, would make the car more expensive than the Nissan March and Honda Brio eco-cars.
Tata is expected to produce 50,000 Nanos a year at its plant in Jakarta, starting 2013. It plans to export the cars to Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines as it is banking on their large populations and big demand for low-cost cars, the paper said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 04:01:15 IST