The Tata Nano is a proposed city car — a small, affordable, rear-engined, four-passenger car aimed primarily at the Indian market — first presented by India's Tata Motors at the 9th annual Auto Expo on January 10, 2008 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, India. The prefix "Nano" derives from the Greek root 'nanos', meaning dwarf — as with nanometre. "Nano" also means "small" in Gujarati, the native language of the Tata family, founders of the Tata Group.
The project has literally become India's claim-for-fame in the international-media due to Tata Motors' innovation in developing the car, as well as keeping it low in price. The car itself is expected to boost the Indian Economy, create entrepreneurial-opportunities across India, as well as expand the Indian car market by 65%. The car was envisioned by renowned industrialist, Ratan Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group and Tata Motors, who has described it as an eco-friendly "people's car". Nano has been greatly appreciated by many sources and the media for its low-cost and eco-friendly initiatives which include using compressed-air as fuel and an electric-version. Tata Group is expected to mass-manufacture the Nano in very large quantities, particularly the electric-version, and, besides selling them in India, to also export them world-wide.
Critics of the car have questioned its safety in India (where reportedly 90,000 people are killed in road-accidents every year), and have also criticised the pollution that it would cause (including criticism by Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientist, Rajendra Pachauri). However, Tata Motors has promised that it would definitely release Nano's eco-friendly variants alongside the gasoline-variant.
Due to strong and persistent opposition to Tata's Singur car-factory by Mamta Banerjee, Tata Motors ultimately decided to cease operations in Singur on 2 October 2008 and started manufacturing Tata Nano at its Pantnagar plant. On her protests and the consequent pullout, the media heavily critcised her and The Telegraph even said: "India is being raped by those who profess to be her soldiers, the guardians of peace." Financial Times reported: "If ever there were a symbol of India’s ambitions to become a modern nation, it would surely be the Nano, the tiny car with the even tinier price-tag. A triumph of homegrown engineering, the $2,200 (€1,490, £1,186) Nano encapsulates the dream of millions of Indians groping for a shot at urban prosperity. That process has stalled...No big economy has prospered without undergoing a huge, often brutal, shift of labour from the countryside to cities and from farms to factories...There is a yawning gap with China. India’s information technology and service sector, no matter how dynamic, simply cannot absorb enough labour. To truly shine, India will need millions, perhaps tens of millions, more manufacturing jobs. Why has it not created them?"
Currently, Tata Motors is reportedly manufacturing Nano at its existing Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) plant and a plant has been proposed for Sanand (Gujarat), though it's yet to be seen whether it would be successful or not (like Singur). Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri reiterated on 4 October 2008 that his government would welcome the Tata Group, if it opts to establish Nano's plant in Uttarakhand state. The company is hoping to produce 50 Nanos per day in Pantnagar by January–March 2009. Ratan Tata has said that Nano will be brought within set timelines. Not many dealers will be appointed till March 2009. The company will bank on existing dealer network for Nano initially. The new Nano Plant could have a capacity of 5,00,000 units, compared to 3,00,000 for Singur. Gujarat has also agreed to match all the incentives offered by West Bengal government.
Contrary to speculation that the car might be a simple four-wheeled auto rickshaw, The Times of India reported the vehicle is "a properly designed and built car". The Chairman is reported to have said, "It is not a car with plastic curtains or no roof — it's a real car."
To achieve its design parameters, Tata has refined the manufacturing process, emphasized innovation and sought new design approaches from suppliers. The car was designed at Italy's Institute of Development in Automotive Engineering — with Ratan Tata requesting certain changes, such the elimination of one of two windscreen wipers.
The Nano has 21% more interior space and an 8% smaller exterior, when compared with its closest rival, the Maruti 800. The car will come in different versions, including one standard and two deluxe variants. The deluxe version will have air conditioning, but no power steering. The car was expected to be produced in the Singur plant in West Bengal, but due to politically-motivated agitations instigated by the Trinamool Congress, mother plant has been shifted to Sanand in Gujarat. The initial production target set by Tata Motors is 250,000 units per year.
The Nano is constructed of components that can be built and shipped separately to be assembled in a variety of locations. In effect, the Nano is being sold in kits that are distributed, assembled, and serviced by local entrepreneurs. As Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata group of companies, observed in an interview with The Times of London: "A bunch of entrepreneurs could establish an assembly operation and Tata Motors would train their people, would oversee their quality assurance and they would become satellite assembly operations for us. So we would create entrepreneurs across the country that would produce the car. We would produce the mass items and ship it to them as kits. That is my idea of dispersing wealth. The service person would be like an insurance agent who would be trained, have a cell phone and scooter and would be assigned to a set of customers."
In fact, Tata envisions going even further, providing the tools for local mechanics to assemble the car in existing auto shops or even in new garages created to cater to remote rural customers. With the exception of Manjeet Kripalani, BusinessWeek's India bureau chief, few have focused on this breakthrough element of the Nano innovation (BusinessWeek.com, 1/10/08).
As of August 2008, material costs have risen from 13% to 23% over the car’s development, and Tata now faces the choice of:
An increased price on the Nano will likely decrease demand.
Tata Nano’s launch could expand the Indian car market by 65%, according to rating agency CRISIL. The low price makes the car affordable for families with incomes of Rs 1 lakh per annum, the agency said. The increase in the market is expected to push up car sales by 20% over the previous year. “The unveiling of Tata Nano, the cheapest car in the world, triggers an important event in the car market. Based on the statement by company officials, CRISIL Research estimates the consumer price of the car at around Rs 1.3 lakh. This brings down the cost of ownership of an entry level car in India by 30%,” the company said in a report.
Thus, the Indian Economy is expected to remain strong and grow in 2008 and beyond, despite the temporary financial turmoil in the US, because the car will also lead to a boost in other sectors of the Indian Economy besides the auto-market.
However, due to the current Singur land dispute, the "Stalled Car Factory" is "Costing Jobs, Splitting Neighbors in West Bengal
Tata's problems in West Bengal are scaring off other industries hoping to locate here, including Infosys, a software maker that wants to build a business park that would provide 5,000 jobs.Guinness Book of World Records IBN mentioned:
Kartik Chandra Malik, 57, runs a tea shop near the boundary wall of Tata's Nano factory.
He says he is frustrated that the factory has been stopped. He says wants it to open, because when it is open he can do more business selling tea and biscuits. He is hoping his son, who just graduated from college, will get a good job at the factory.
Many of Malik's neighbors in Barispada are tight-lipped when it comes to talking about Tata's troubles. There is growing tension in the villages near the Tata factory as the protests continue and the plant remains closed. The Tata crisis pits neighbors against each other.
Malik says many of his neighbors are being pressured by opposition groups to protest against the carmaker. But many here already have jobs lined up at the factory or hope to.
A young man at Malik's tea shop said he got a job loading trucks at the Tata plant. For that, many of neighbors have called him a traitor.
The ambitious Nano car has not rolled out of the assembly line of the makers Tata's plants yet. But it is already in the Guinness book as the world's cheapest car.Comparison with Model T Some news-sources have compared Ratan Tata's Tata Nano with Henry Ford's Model T that co-incidentally was built around a century ago. Livemint said:
Ford Motor Co. is rich because Henry Ford used the assembly-line to produce the Model T in 1908. Ratan Tata is a late entrepreneur, making the Nano in 2008.
India is 100 years behind. But we are waking up to the possibility of catching up. I just hope our planners wake up soon.
Times of India mentioned:
This raises the question: How have the Tatas accomplished such a task? Pursuing this question a fascinating story unfolds that reminds one of Henry Ford's Model T that was built exactly one hundred years ago (September 1908). Ford wanted to make a car for the multitude, not for the elite, with the best material and the best design that the technology of his time could devise, and he wanted to make it, above all, at a price that was affordable. This is the example that Ratan Tata has followed with determination. When he announced the price of his car in an interview to the ‘Financial Times’ during the Geneva Motor Show, his colleagues were 'aghast', but he had set his goal.
Though the car has been appreciated by many sources, including Reuters due to "the way it has tweaked existing technologies to target an as-yet untapped segment of the market", yet it has been stated by the same sources that Nano is not quite "revolutionary in its technology", just low in price. Moreover, technologies which are expected of the new and yet-to-be-released car include a revolutionary compressed-air fuel system and an eco-friendly electric-version, technologies on which Tata is reportedly already working, though no official incorporation-date for these technologies in the new car has been released.
According to Tata, the Nano complies with Bharat Stage-III and Euro-IV emission standards. Ratan Tata also said, 'The car has passed the full-frontal crash and the side impact crash'.. Tata Nano passed the required 'homologation’ tests with Pune-based Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI).This means that the car has met all the specified criteria for roadworthiness laid out by the government including emissions or noise & vibration and can now ply on Indian roads. Tata Nano managed to score around 24 km per litre during its ‘homologation’ tests with ARAI. This makes Tata Nano the most fuel efficient car in India. Nano will be the first car in India to display the actual fuel mileage figures it recorded at ARAI’s tests on its windshield. According to ARAI it conforms to Euro IV emission standards which will come into effect in India in 2010.Rear mounted engine The use of a rear mounted engine to help maximize interior space makes the Nano similar to the original Fiat 500, another technically innovative "people's car". A concept vehicle similar in styling to the Nano, also with rear engined layout was proposed by the UK Rover Group in the 1990s to succeed the original Mini but was not put into production. The eventual new Mini was much larger and technically conservative. The independent, and now-defunct, MG Rover Group later based their Rover CityRover on the Tata Indica.
Tata is also reported to be contemplating offering a compressed air engine as an option
|Engine:||2 cylinder petrol with Bosch multi-point fuel injection (single injector) all aluminium|
|Value Motronic engine management platform from Bosch|
|2 valves per cylinder overhead camshaft|
|Compression ratio: 9.5:1|
|bore × stroke: ×|
|Power: @ 5500 rpm|
|Torque: @ 2500 rpm|
|Layout and Transmission||Rear wheel drive|
|4-speed manual transmission|
|Steering||mechanical rack and pinion|
|Performance||Acceleration: 0-: 14 seconds|
|Fuel efficiency (overall): 20 kilometres per litre|
|Body and dimensions||Seat belt: 4|
|Suspension, Tires & Brakes||Front brake: disc|
|Rear brake: drum|
|Front suspension: McPherson strut with lower A arm|
|Rear suspension: Independent coil spring|
|Bosch||Gasoline injection system (diesel will follow), starter, alternator, brake system|
|Caparo||Inner structural panels|
|Continental AG||Gasoline fuel supply system, fuel level sensor|
|Denso||Windshield wiper system (single motor and arm)|
|Ficosa||Rear-view mirrors, interior mirrors, manual and CVT shifters, washer system|
|ITW Deltar||Outside and inside door handles|
|Mahle||Camshafts, spin-on oil filters, fuel filters and air cleaners|
|Ceekay Daikin/Valeo||Clutch sets|
|Visteon||Air induction system|
|ZF Friedrichshafen AG||Chassis components, including tie rods|
|Behr||HVAC for the luxury version|
Economic Times reported that the "electric Nano" "would still make good sense for economic, clean and green personal mobility in countries around the world." According to the Hamburg-based newspaper, Auto Bild, the E-Nano would be built in cooperation with the Norwegian electric car specialist, Miljoebil Grenland or Miljøbil Grenland AS.Enthusiastic support Tata Motors received preliminary enthusiastic-support in the media as well as in government circles (including Europe and other states) for the electric-variant of Nano. The enthusiasm is reportedly even higher than that for the petrol-variant.
I can say that alike other nations, entire Europe is also eagerly awaiting the commercial launch of Nano. But keeping in mind the adverse impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) on environment, it would be advisable to have Nano’s electric version. I hope Tata (Ratan) is working on it.
The base $2,500 getting no air conditioning. The Deluxe and Luxury variants will get AC and body colored bumpers. Luxury variant will also have alloy wheels, fog lamps and ICE. Tata Motors plans to sell more expensive version in order to keep product line profitable.Picture depicting Tata Nano's Variants, Trim Levels, Interiors and Dimensions.
Activists near Kolkata, where Tata's manufacturing unit is located, burnt the car effigy. In New Delhi, a group of six women protested wearing T-shirts bearing slogans that said, "The Rs 1 lakh car has Singur people's blood on it." The Trinamool Congress alleged that Tata motors usurped the agrarian land for the construction site and have threatened to stall the manufacture of the car.
With the Tata Nano project in jeapordy in West Bengal, there is now a race between other Indian States to become the new location for the Tata Nano project, with each state trying to entice the Tata Motors Group to their particular location..
Ratan Tata announced on Oct. 7, 2008 that he is going to move his plant to Sanand in Ahmedabad district of Gujarat.
As early as January 2008, Trinamool Congress had demanded a white-paper for the plant, and Forward Bloc leader Ashok Ghosh had asked Tata Motors to close their Singur plant within a year. He had termed the decision to allow the car plant at Singur a "mistake", and had asked the state government to take corrective steps. However, Tata Motors is now being criticised for not paying requisite attention to this issue at this early-stage only when the plant could have been easily shifted as not much investment had been done.
Moreover, in West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb’s own words, the acquisition of the land for the Singur plant has been a ‘mistake’. It is alleged that Tatas did not pay enough attention towards setting up plants in other competing states, such as Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, even though then Chairman of Uttar Pradesh's Industrial Development Council, Amar Singh, himself had invited the Tatas for setting up the plant in Uttar Pradesh in 2006 (see below).
Mamata is sticking to her land-for-land demand, hoping that her stubborn stand will yield electoral dividends in rural Bengal it doesn't matter if Tatas exit Singur. Even her own colleagues in Trinamool have got fed up and are equally frustrated with didi's arrogance but they don't dare go against her. "I am fed up. Let the Tatas do whatever they want. The war of nerves is getting too much," a senior Trinamool leader said.
The rumblings, however, make no difference to Mamata. Her eyes are fixed on Writers' Buildings, and not the small car factory.
Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool Congress has reportedly been "voicing provocative speeches to instigate Trinamool supporters to cause vandalism in Singur", to improve her public-image and to get popularity for winning elections. As of today, even if she resolves the issue immediately, the whole project would have been delayed by one month or more, causing unaccountable harm to Tata's image as well as harming West Bengal and Tata Motors economically and irrepairably because, though the car might release in 2008, yet the Tata Motors would probably miss the 2008 festive-season deadline that it had set for itself.
Initially, it was being presumed that Singur would be delayed and the first Nano would roll out from some other Tata factory. Now it appears that Singur might lose the project completely.
The Telegraph reported: "It is believed that the Tatas have told the government they will wait till September 22, the last date for registration of beneficiaries of the package".
On the issue of returning the acquired land, we hold that there is no such provison in the Indian Constitution. The present owner of the land is the state government. There is no legal provison by which one can return the land to the farmers or to the previous owners. There is really no need now more than ever to enter into any dialogue with the opposition any longer. The court of law shall hold onto the cheques of those who had not accepted them for whatever reasons. Tata pullout has harmed industrialisation in the state. Politics would never allow any good to happen to Bengal. Trinamool Congress wanted exactly this to happen -- let blood be shed. The blood letting they would utilise shamelessly for political ends.
Due to Longevity of the protest by Trinamool Congress, many people in the media have hinted that rival Corporates have funded and provided logistics for TMC's protest to Sabotage the Nano project so that its launch can be delayed and costs can be increased. In a single day of the protest, food bill alone ran into millions of rupees.
It has been speculated that money to sustain such a prolonged protest involving thousands of TMC party workers came from rival Two/Four Wheeler lobby. Rahul Bajaj gave an interview in which he lauded Mamta Banerjee's effort and stated that what she is doing is for the welfare of poor farmers, Rahul Bajaj is the owner of Bajaj Motors which is a leading two wheeler manufacturer. Bajaj Motors is also developing a low cost car together with Renault-Nissan to rival Tata Nano . In a debate show organized by NDTV a leading Business Magazine's editor in chief hinted that Bajaj Auto is financing Mamta Banerjee. After the telecast of this debate Rahul Bajaj denied the allegations and threatened to sue the editor of Businessworld magazine for defamation.
Mamta Banerjee's reaction towards the relocation package by West Bengal government also gave fuel to these theories. West Bengal government offered land to the displaced farmer nearby Tata Motors plant, Mamta Banerjee's refused to accept the package and asked for the land inside the project area to be returned.
Singur was envisioned as the mother plant supplying to various satellite plants in various regions all over India but now that Tata has made a soft exit from West Bengal it is believed that they will have a mother plant in state which will provide maximum incentives and also has least potential for controversy in land acquisition. Availability of cheap labour will also play a major role in this decision. At the same time the PantNagar plant is manufacturing Tata Nanos in small batches of 25-50 and it is expected that this number will be increased to 500 per day. After meeting West Bengal chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya Ratan Tata announced Tata Motors decision to pull out from Singur due the lack of security of their employees in the region.
After pullout from Singur Tata Motors decided to setup mother plant in the state of Gujarat due to proximity to major ports like Mundra and cities like Rajkot where 30% of Nano's components are manufactured and the the proposed plant site is fully owned by the Government therefore there will be no issue in land transfer. Gujarat state is also known for Gujarati's positive attitude towards businesses.
It is not yet known when the first batch will be produced at the Sanand plant, meanwhile Tata Motors is producing Nano at its plant in Pant Nagar and Pune to meet its deadline for the launch.
India has 8 per cent of the world’s vehicle fatalities and less than 1 per cent of its cars, with more than 90,000 people killed on the country’s roads every year. Introducing a million Nanos into the mix may bring more – and unwelcome – headlines.
Tata, which has the only crash-test facility in the country, said that the Nano “exceeds current regulatory requirements”. And while it is not a deathtrap – it has crumple zones, seat belts and strong seat anchors – it is worth bearing in mind that total vehicle crash testing (rather than just frontal impact), airbags and antilock braking systems are not mandatory.
Without these, the Nano would not even be considered for approval in Britain. Adding them would double its price in India, which is why they have been omitted.
It's believed that Tata Motors will offer a version of the Nano with these safety-features, including an airbag system in its electric version. Tata said the Nano has an all sheet-metal body, with safety features such as crumple zones, intrusion-resistant doors, seat-belts, strong seats and anchorages, and the rear tailgate glass bonded to the body. Tires are tubeless.
In crowded metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Ratan Tata has conceived a scheme to only offer the Nano to those individuals who do not have an automobile already. The Nano will also replace many overloaded and worn-out two-stroke polluting vehicles, both two and three-wheeled. In the current policy and regulatory framework, Centre for Science and Environment consider that the economy cars will be disastrous.
However, this can change if eco-friendly variants (cited above) are manufactured, instead of the conventional petrol and diesel based versions.
Bajaj Auto says its $2,500 car, which it is building with Renault and Nissan Motor, will aim at a fuel-efficiency of 30 km/litre, or twice an average small car, and carbon dioxide emissions of 100 gm/km.
The Bajaj venture will have an initial capacity of 400,000 units, while Tata expects eventual demand of 1 million Nanos.
Honda and Toyota are leading the way on so called cleaner gasoline-electric hybrids, and some environmentalists argue getting prices down on these technologies is where efforts should be concentrated.