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Eye-prod Nano

autos Updated: Dec 30, 2008 21:45 IST
Suprotip Ghosh

Of all the good things that happened in 2008, the unveiling of the Nano fuelled a long-cherished aspiration of millions of middle class families — to own a car.

The Nano, billed as the people’s car, could do what the mobile phone did to India — a classic example of ‘disruptive technology’. Other than bringing down ownership costs, it has the potential to change the way making cars is perceived by the industry itself.

Girish Arun Wagh’s tryst with Tata Motors’ new, frugal strategy started on a day in the year 2000, when he was asked, as member of a team of young managers, to come up with a plan to cut costs by up to 10 per cent for the company.

This, in a way, had put Wagh on the road to what would become, eight years later, the Tata Nano.

"I have had great satisfaction with all the projects I have been involved (with), among which the Nano is (the) most challenging," said Wagh, who began his career with Tata Motors in 1992.

"I learn from everyone I work with."

The Rs 1-lakh car also underscored the strength of the country’s engineering talent. Nano might have helped put the global spotlight on Chairman Ratan Tata, but his vision was turned into reality by a team of young engineers led by a 38-year-old — Girish Arun Wagh.

Tata Motors filed 35-odd patents for the car, which is made in India from design to finish.

Unlike in the big cities, where the Nano might be regarded infra-dig, in the smaller towns and cities, where car ownership is very low, it may well be an object of desire.

In small-town India, owning a car has a cachet all its own, said Jatin Chawla, analyst with India Infoline, who prepared a detailed report on the Nano.

The success of Tata Motors and its chairman Ratan Tata in making the world’s cheapest car a reality has forced other automakers, both at home and abroad, to emulate the feat.