Ratan Tata still has big hopes for little Nano

Ratan Tata still has big hopes for little Nano

Tata Motors‘ Nano may have been a consistent flop in India, but the former chairman of parent and conglomerate Tata Group still has high hopes for the world’s cheapest car. In an interview on CNBC’s Managing Asia, Ratan Tata said he believes the minicar still has the potential to take off in the home market. “A re-launched Nano with some of the differences that we’re trying to incorporate, yes I do,” said Tata, adding that the company has plans to launch the Nano outside of the Indian market, but did not give a timeframe for when.“Maybe it gets launched in another country like Indonesia, where it doesn’t have the stigma and the new image comes back to India. Or maybe as a changed product that gets marketed in Europe. There’s a lot of interest in Nano outside India,” said Tata, who stepped down as chairman of multinational conglomerate Tata Group in 2012.

The Nano, positioned as the “people’s car” starting at around $2,500 for a stripped-down model, has struggled to gain traction since its launch in 2009. Sales of the vehicle plunged 74 percent on-year during the April-September period to 10,202 units.

In October, Tata Motors introduced a new model of the car, the Nano CNG emax – an eco-friendly variant of the original Nano that can run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas –in a bid to revive sales.

The automaker is also slated to launch a diesel-powered version of the vehicle by the end of March 2014. The fuel is cheaper than gasoline thanks to government subsidies.

Tata says the marketing around the Nano as the world’s cheapest car is partly to blame for its failure to gain popularity.

Instead, it should have been promoted as a safer alternative for the millions of families who tend to crowd more than two members onto two-wheelers.

“I always felt the Nano should have been marketed towards the owner of a two-wheeler because it was conceived to give people who rode on two-wheeler an all-weather, safe form of transportation, not (the) cheapest,” Tata said.

“It became termed as the cheapest car by the public, and [also] I’m sorry to say, by the company when it was being marketed,” he added.

To watch the full interview with Ratan Tata, tune into Managing Asia on 29 November at 18:30 SIN/HK.

By CNBC’s Ansuya Harjani; Follow her on Twitter: @Ansuya_

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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