Ravi Kant, the vice-chairman of Tata Motors, states in the foreword: The story of the Nano begins with the dream that chairman Ratan Tata had of providing Indians a safe and affordable means of personal mobility.
The car, the company’s engineers felt, could do for India what Ford’s Model T did for Americans. India had been shifting to the fast-growth highway since the economic reforms of the 1990s, and its citizens were ready for a romance with cars.
The R1-lakh cost that came to define the Nano was born of a casual statement Tata made at the Geneva Motor Show. Later, his gut reaction was to issue a rebuttal. Even though Tata’s employees were aghast, the chairman had his goal and his team a cost cast in concrete.
Soon after its design was chalked out, everything was put under the scanner.
Installation of the Singur plant faced challenges posed by the agitation. As it gathered force, the pressure on the employees worsened. On October 3, 2008, Tata announced they were leaving Singur.
But once the dust of the relocation effort began to settle, the team began to appreciate what Sanand had to offer.
Ratan Tata drove his dream to centre stage at the Delhi Auto Expo on January 10, 2008. But there were some nasty reactions: Jagdish Khattar, the former chief of Maruti Suzuki said, “It’s too early to say if the Nano will overtake the Maruti 800 segment.”
But for Tata Motors, the world had changed that day. And nothing has been the same for the organisation and everyone associated with it ever since.