Made in India: Car or Laptop

It appears Tata Motors will soon launch its most talked about ultra cheap car, ‘Nano’, the small car seen as a symbol of India’s expertise in frugal engineering. Some says it may be as early as on the next March 3. The media has been covering some unnecessarily negative coverage of the company. One such was related to the delayed payment to the vendors. That is not a usual thing in a period of such an unprecedented slowdown. Surprisingly, the vendors have denied that too. Perhaps, the media men are looking for some favours from the Tata management that it doesn’t offer.

Interestingly, another news regarding the launch in media talks of the celebrities whom Tata will offer Nanos. The list includes President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Opposition Leader LK Advani. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, where it was to be made initially, and Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, who was instrumental in attracting the Nano plant to Gujarat after it failed to take off in West Bengal may also get the offers. Is it Tata’s way to get the political support for Nano? How many of these politicians will be driving the car themselves? Tata Motors must offer the cars to those who drive themselves and seek their feedbacks.

Others preferred stars for getting Nano may be Sania Mirza, Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni or actors Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgan and Kajol who endorse Tata products. I wish the stars don’t look down upon Nano because of the huge luxury cars they keep and take pride in driving.

But it is pretty clear that the company is in financial crisis. The customers will have to book Nano by paying Rs 70,000. It is a very high amount for a product that plans to sell at Rs 1, 00,000. Moreover, with limited production from the existing plant at Pantnagar, the customers will have to wait to get the cars. It is certainly not a very customer friendly decision for the lower middle class for whom it has been created. However, I still eagerly wait for the Nanos to be on the road.

Tata’s Nano is expected to be the best for the value plus a little more. Let the skeptics of the India’s manufacturing might be proved wrong. Let Nano be accepted all over the world as the second car in the house.

Tata Motors has been credited as the first automaker in the world to embrace the concept of design-to-value to some extent. Tata Motors gave a great deal of thought to what first-time car buyers in India were looking for as it designed Nano, Let its launch be outstanding in its category and tell a different story than one that the $10 laptop did.

The recent launch of India’s $10 laptop on February 3, at Tirupati has come to many as crude joke and to me as shock because of my emotional weakness regarding the achievements of the country’s young scientists and engineers. I still wish the technocrats associated with the project take up the challenge to solve all the queries raised by the users before the commercial launch to make the competition over the world cry in envy. Let the $10-laptop vastly undercut the cheapest laptops currently available, be it the Massachusetts Institute of Technology XO-1 or Taiwanese Asus’s Eee PC net books, or that anyone do plan in future. Let the no-frills laptop effectively act as Web portals rather than storage device. Let every Indian young man and women crave to have one. Let the $ 10 laptop not become ‘flop top’.

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