October 1 has been set as the internal deadline for the Nano rollout. The iconic car won’t miss the deadline, vendors affirm, even if Singur does.
The implication is clear: if political agitations prevent the rollout from Singur, the baton will be passed on to Tata Motors’ Pantnagar factory devoted to the light commercial vehicle Ace. “We have been told Nano is under too intense international glare to make it hostage to the political exigencies of any one state,” said a Delhi-based vendor.
Tata Motors is also reportedly aiming to put 35,000 vehicles on the road by March 31, 2009. If the production deadline is met, Nano will arrive six days before goddess Durga in Bengal.
The official line from Tata Motors, however, continues to be politically correct. The spokesman said, “The company is setting up the first and the mother plant for the Tata Nano at Singur, that it is a fully integrated facility comprising Tata Motors’ own plant and a Vendor Park, and is working towards the calendar of starting production in the October–December quarter of 2008. The entire car will be built at Singur.”
While vendors have been prepared for the Pantnagar plan, the Tatas have been put into a situation wherein there is a lot of pressure on them to start production in Singur, which is far away from a stage of preparedness.
Therefore, vendors have geared up for initially supplying components from their existing factories outside Bengal, even if the political climate is suitable for a rollout from Singur. “If the deadline of early October is to be met, it is impossible to manufacture components in Singur,” said a vendor. “In that case, we will supply components from outside the state.”
Though some vendors are working at breakneck speed to erect factories in Singur, they reckon it virtually impossible to bring them to production by early October.
Production targets have suffered due to this delay. Initially, the Tatas planned to manufacture 96,000 vehicles. Then, in June, the target was reportedly brought down to 50,000 units. The figure now is 35,000 by March 31, 2009.
The official line is, again, vague. “The capacity of the plant is 2,50,000 units per year, expandable to 3,50,000,” said the spokesman.