Tata Motors has applied for 34 different patents just for the small car Nano, and in excess of 200 patents for various other innovations to create a cost-efficient new technology for its future cars.
Harish Wagh, who has headed the Nano project since its inception, revealed that most of the innovations on the way to the unveiling of the car were in packaging the engine and various parts into the car. The Nano, while highly compact, has 21 per cent more space inside than the Maruti 800, claimed Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Motors.
"We decided to call the car Nano because it is small and also because it is technologically advanced," said Tata.
The Nano is a practice in reducing costs in manufacturing a car. The small car, which has a small engine, and a shell-like, steel structure that can be carried without the doors or the plastic parts, has brought in a number of innovations that have enabled India's largest maker of cars and trucks to bring down costs. The car will be offered to buyers at an ex-factory price of Rs 1 lakh for the basic model when it is launched. For starters, the car is much smaller outside than most existing cars, the nearest international competitor being the China-made QQ, manufactured by Chery Motors.
This cuts down drastically on the amount of material used in the vehicle.
Further, the car would use a full-steel body to bring down costs, Tata said at the launch of the small car at the ninth auto expo. Most cars today have an alloy or high-tensile steel body, which is expensive to build and put together from various parts.
The company intends to have the car components made in the factories of its close to 100 vendors and suppliers. These would then be shifted to the mother plant in Singur. The car would have a four-speed manual transmission and a 624 cc two cylinder engine, which is smaller and lighter than the 796 cc Maruti 800 engine.
According to a vendor who refused to be named, the Tatas have been aggressive with their sourcing from component makers. Lower margins have been offered against expected high sales volume of the car.