Gurus’ Nano and Sushant

‘Business Today’ in its nineteenth anniversary issue has articles from many management greats and gurus such as Tarun Khanna and Vijay Govindarajan:

Tarun Khanna: Tata’s Nano, the first so-called ‘1 lakh Rupee’ car ($2,200, or close to this) and its Ace, the mini-truck, are surely impressive attempts to create affordable transport for India’s masses, with immediate resonance for several consumers worldwide. The Nano might well find a home in other countries, and the re-engineering and tabula rasa design approach taken by the company might also prompt the rethinking of automotive design.

Vijay Govindarajan: But the real breakthrough is yet to come – it is about taking the Nano global. Already, Tata is preparing to take the Nano to other emerging markets. Even more important, the company plans to scale up the Nano platform and launch it in Europe and the US. Imagine for a moment that Tata Motors invests another $2,500 to make the Nano the world’s most intelligent car – with integrated navigation, entertainment, and information. Even at $5,000, the Nano would be the cheapest car and could well take the low end of the US auto market by storm.

Even McKinsey in an article in its January issue, ‘Unleashing Innovation in China’, has a special mention of Nano as an example of India’s strength against that of China.

Indians are pushing the envelope with designs such as the world’s cheapest car, the Nano. They are also finding that innovation in a traditional area can lead to innovation closer to the technological edge—for example, the plan to build a battery-powered Nano. There is no reason China shouldn’t aspire to that kind of innovation as well.

According to Swaminathan SA Aiyar, ‘Tata’s Nano has made India world famous in autos.’

Are the above mentions not exhilarating?

I, myself have been fan of Ratan Tata since I read first about the concept of Nano in media and written about it many times. It was a daring project for its huge investment. Lack of customers for Nano as it appeared after November sale figures appeared, was shocking. The news of Nano catching fire was equally troublesome for me as an Indian and an engineer by profession who spent his life in the sector. However, I thought Tata Motors will overcome that.

Unfortunately Tata Motors tried to market Nano by words of mouth and didn’t make arrangement for financing it easily for the customers going for it as first car. Tata would have made Nano interesting bait for youngsters, both in urban and the rural India.

I was feeling bad about Nano. I wanted it to be the successful product from India flooding the global markets. Instead I was hearing only bad field reports. But then I heard Sushant.

Sushant’s residence is on my route to the park where I go for morning walk every day. He had been wishing every time he sees me. The youngsters these days hardly try to notice the elders. Sushant is different. He is enterprising too.

Sushant is a little handicapped. He limps a bit. It is perhaps right from birth. His father worked in telephone exchange. He managed to get a plot in this sector and build his house too. He has two sons. Sushant is the elder one.

He had a scooter earlier. Then one day I found a Maruti 800. But recently after returning from US, I saw one day a Nano outside his gate. I had not seen Nano in Noida. When I asked, he confirmed that he bought it few days ago.

A conversation with Sushant made me feel good. He was very positive about Nano. When I talked about Nano catching fire, he told me his views. According to him, some customers take a new Nano and get some elctricals changed as advised by some roadside experts. That has been the cause of a short circuiting and fire. I don’t know if he is right. But I remember ignorant customers of Ambassador cars making similar mistake in my days with Hindustan Motors. Once I found some welders doing full electric arc welding of the floor panels that was spot welded in the plant as per the specifications. It would certainly be making the cars unsafe, particularly during crash.

As Sushant told me, on his own he had persuaded some of his friends also to buy Nanos.

I wish Tata Motors takes all the steps to prevent any mis-engineering.

Tata Motors must learn, appreciate and take all steps to prove the product worthy of the hopes and aspirations of the management gurus and senior citizens like me.

Are they hearing?

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