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Tata Nano: Big Talk about a Tiny Car

By: Ashwini Ahuja
Jan-25-2008
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“The father was driving a scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, wife seated behind him holding a little baby. It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family. Tata Motors" engineers and designers gave their all for about four years to realize this goal”

Exactly these were the words, Mr. Rattan Tata, the chairman of Tata Motors had uttered at India’s biggest car show at 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi’s Pragati Madan at the time of unveiling the Nano- the cheapest ever as well as the smallest ever car of the world.

With the launch of its unique model, the buzz word in the motor industry is: Tata Motor beats the all car manufacturers with its newest product which is no more than one lakh- a moderate, affordable price for a middle class Indian. Why the car is so cheap, exactly costing the half of the price of the Maruti 800 which is currently sold cheapest in the Indian market.

The critics as well as rival manufactures, in response, are continuing to carp on- certainly Tata will have to sacrifice quality and safety standards to meet the lowest ever target price. Nano is yet to run on Indian roads in the mid of the year but it has thrown the other motor companies into worry at its first bang.

In the coming years, other players have to launch their new cheaper models to compete Nano- which is dubbed as a dream car of a common man and they will be forced to do their existing prices lower. This trend is the manifestation of India’s fast growing economy and increased consumer wealth.

In a statement, Shinzo Nakanishi, Managing Director of Maruti Suzuki has candidly admitted, “yes, we will have to do at least”

Maruti had launched its product- 800 in the year of 1983 and since then the car had been dominating the motor market, thanks to its lowest price. Then, most other rivals were failed to compete with them due to only price factor. Now, with the coming of Nano, it has become a real challenge to Maruti 800.

In fact, Nano- which is tested for full frontal crash as per norms- is not lesser than Maruti 800 anyway except for its small size which is 8 percent less bumper to bumper. But amazingly, it is 21 percent more spacious than Maruti from inside. It can run almost 600 km with full tank of 30 liters capacity. Its 624 cc petrol engine is moderate for a family car of four members’ capacity. If you squeeze, the car will open its lap for five occupants.

With its coming, there is an ever haunting question, will it not clog roads? And undoubtedly, the consumption of more fossil fuel will pollute the environment. Mr. R.K Pachauri, the head of the Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change, who has recently shared the prestigious Nobel for his contribution in the field of environment, is getting nightmares due to Nano.

And Ms. Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment too frightens with the emergence of new cars but she says, "it is not the Nano itself but cars overall give her nightmares’.

Undoubtedly, in the coming years, the huge influx of cars in cities will cause serious pollution problem. Jamie Leather, a transport specialist too accepts that it would be a major concern. As per data, in 2005, vehicles running on Indian roads released approximately 219 million tons of carbon dioxide.

And by 2035, it is estimated that it might increase to 1467 millions tons if the rise in low cars continue steeply. Mr. Baljeet Singh, a traffic police cop says that certainly, it would overwhelm the country’s roads and create an environmental horror. It is better if we check on adulteration in petrol and diesel. Because of huge different between the prices of petrol and kerosene, adulteration is becoming commonplace which causes horrendous pollution.

Almost twenty four years back, Maruti had gripped the imagination of nation with its unique style and low cost price. Now Nano has registered its entry with more innovation and elegance and price is amazingly lesser. Although, the launch of Nano is slightly late yet the Mr. Rattan Tata did not renege on his promise and he has earned trust of the clients who have been dreaming of an economical car for themselves.

Within minutes of its launch, the Economist of London had published its photograph on its cover page. It shows that how the world was waiting for the ever cheapest car and people’s gripping mania for the car is still lurking all around and car lovers are collecting its colourful pictures from business and mainstream magazines.

It is claimed that the car meets all current safety norms and emission criteria. It will cause lower pollution than two wheelers, Mr. Rattan Tata, in the launch ceremony, said boastfully.

However, it might be too early to comment on new brand car- how it will work, but one thing is quite obvious; a common man who had been dreaming a low-cost car for family must lap it up. As the more people buy the car, cities will stomach more air pollution and smoke. If one says, there would be rapid change in global warming; he should not have been unnoticed.

The Times of India’s noted columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar writes in his column, “Nano will not burden us with too many cars. India has very few cars per person by world standards. London and New York have ultra high car densities, yet have clearer air than Delhi. Our problem is too many bad policies, not too many cars”
With the rise in numbers in the time to come, apart from pollution, parking space would also be a trouble for car riders. Don’t laugh- and people will be forced to spend their precious hours in wafting through the congestion of traffic in spite of spending time with their children and spouses.

Mr. Anil Dawra, a Bank Manager working at Punjab National Bank, Fazilka (Punjab) says that in Tokyo, you can not buy a car unless you own a private parking space for it. But in India, it goes. Here, every place is parking place unless you are fined by the traffic police.

Moreover, the land in India is growing costlier and people are utilizing it for other purpose. The place for legal parking is shrinking. Why should one leave big space for meagre parking rate? If the parking rates are high, people will use their car for selected purposes. They definitely will not take them to workplace. If yes, they will buy small vehicles. It will slash both congestion and air pollution.

Mr. Dawra further says that there is a thunder of revolution in auto industry everywhere. It is definitely a good sign for the economy of the country. And, to meet the need of the traffic hazards, the government will be forced to step in improving road conditions. And hopefully, there would be a dramatic change in country in the years to come.

Ms. Anshu Bala, who teaches in a Government School in a village Beganwali in Ferozepur district, says I did not dream of buying a car for my five members’ family because, I was unable to afford it. Now, I am happy, I can buy it. My dream has realized.

Dr. Vinod Sharma, Director of a Study Centre run by Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar is of the opinion that I am surprised, it’s a drastic change in the history of auto Industry. After Maruti 800, it is second time when I am seeing the large crowd that had assembled 24 years back. I have two cars, one for me, the other for my son but I will buy this one also for my wife because I love its elegant look.

On being asked about Nano, an auto rickshaw driver Deepa laughs hilariously-“I too will buy it because it is even cheaper than my auto rickshaw. With owning a car, he will definitely attract more commuters, he says displaying rays of hope from his eyes.

Ashwini Kalra, an engineer in Chandigarh says that he would prefer to go to his office driving Nano. Since, it’s a car and is safer than a two wheeler. No doubt, there would be chaos on the roads but then driving a two- wheeler might be more dangerous.

Jyoti, a student of BCA in Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan) says, for the last one year, I have been asking my mom for an Activa company bike, but now I will ask her to buy me Nano car. Everybody in my family would be able to use it and moreover, a car is a car. It’s a status. She further says; if you are inside the car, hardly any of the eve teasers would lurk around you. Moreover, today’s maddening traffic, two-wheeler is not safe, anyway.

Next, Jyoti, in lighter vein, names the Nano - Mamta Banerjee car because the company had planned its production at Singur factory. But Mamta Banerjee and her party cadre opposed the left government stand vehemently to issue the deed of land to Tata Group for setting up factory.


Ashwini Ahuja

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