It was one of those days when Auto Expo 2008 was going on in New Delhi. I called Alok to find out if uncle was coming to meet Anand. Right after recognizing my voice, he jumped to ask me to book a ‘Nano’ as soon as it gets available here in Noida. Alok lives in the remote village of Bihar. But with digital connectivity, he had seen Rattan Tata launching Nano at Auto Expo 2008. Courtesy Nitish’s initiative our village is now well connected with an all weather road. My small village of 2000 and odd population have about 50 tractors and almost the same or more number of motorcycles, besides three combine harvesters too. And I am sure once Alok gets Nano, many will follow.
Is the marketing manager of Tata Motors listening? I wish Tata Motors would have gone to rural markets as priority for Nano and would have developed its dealers network also accordingly. I am confident Tata Motors would have got a ready market for a million or more Nanos. With rural road programme moving on fast track through out the country that seeks to connect all habitations with population of 1,000 people or more in plain areas and all habitations with population of 500 or more in hill states, tribal and desert areas with an all-weather road by 2009, the number of the prospective buyers will be unimaginably high.
But naturally some obvious questions crop up.
Has Tata Motors considered this aspect in its strategy and design? Is Nano robust and reliable enough for the rural India? Tata Motors would have answered its critics claiming increased damage to the environment better too. Rural India as on today is hardly having a miniscule of the total cars or vehicles in the country. With good agricultural earnings, many in rural India can certainly aspire, acquire and afford Nano at its price. Nano would have connected its owners with the urban India and helped PURA concept.
But more important is the first time advantage for Nano. Nano must go in production fast and hit the market soon, though certainly after the debugging of all the technical weaknesses, if any. Tata Motors shouldn’t repeat ‘Indica’ story where the cars from initial production had major problems with suspension systems. Initial poor reactions that go like forest fire by words of mouth may damage the market prospects. Tata Motors would have started simultaneous production, at least the assembly of Nanos at all its plants to serve the regions. It must establish its lead before the competition gets in.
Tata Motors is showcasing Nano at Geneva Motor Show to charm Europe. It has already made a stir at the motor show in Detroit. Nano is today the world’s most talked-about car and the people will not like to just keep on talking. As reported, a survey conducted in late January by Canadian Press suggests the Nano would be a hit in Canada if Tata Motors, which expects to start production this fall, decides to export the car. I am sure Nano is the best suited to CK Prahalad’s concept of designing a product for the people at the bottom of pyramid. Many in Asian, African and South American markets will find Nano as the best to meet their requirements. But has Tata Motors planned a scale of production big enough if the demand comes from all over the world? Has it an ambition so big?
Tata Motors shouldn’t also underrate the auto manufacturers of China that are hankering to get into global auto market. Chery and Geely, both have big plans for its vehicles in developed markets. Nano doesn’t have some thing that can’t be integrated by the cost innovative Chinese in its products. It is an opportunity for Tata Motors and its manager to get into the global club of automobile manufacturers with Nanos penetrating the market all over the world. As on today no one can offer such a car at this price. Moreover Tata Motors also have to keep price advantage with constantly innovating technologies. With companies such as Tata Steel, TCS, and TACO as sister units, Tata Motors can do it, if it so wishes.
As I meet more and more people, the enthusiasm about Nanos get known to me from various quarters. Yamuna says all the ladies in her kitty party will like to have one for them. I have myself decided to get one for Yamuna. She on her own also can buy it. I wish small entrepreneurs encouraged by Tata Motors start many drivers training schools, as rural owners and housewives will like to drive Nano themselves.
It must certainly be a testing time for Tata Motors. Its employees from all levels of organization must work hard and meet the aspirations of prospective buyers and well-wishers. Nano if successful will change the thinking process of Indians.