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Will Nano go to Pantnagar?

Tata Motors is still very much there in Singur. But after Ratan Tata’s exasperated ‘threat’ on Friday, is there a Plan B? Sumant Banerji reports.

autos Updated: Aug 24, 2008 01:52 IST
Sumant Banerji

Tata Motors is still very much there in Singur. But after Ratan Tata’s exasperated ‘threat’ on Friday, is there a Plan B?

<b1>The buzz is that if West Bengal is no longer an option, the Nano may find a new home in Pantnagar, Uttaranchal. Tata Motors already has a two-lakh unit capacity at the Pantnagar plant for its vehicle Ace, which is not very different from the Nano.

After Tata’s ‘possible pull-out’ statement, a slew of suitors have lined up to provide a home for the Rs 1 lakh people’s car. Orissa, Maharashtra, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh have started wooing Tata Motors even as West Bengal scurries to keep the Nano in its backyard.

However, due to the company’s existing operations, industry experts believe it is Pantnagar that is the real ‘non-Singur’ option.

"Tata Motors can produce from Pantnagar up to a capacity of 30,000-35,000 Nanos," said Pankaj Pandey, head of research, ICICI Direct. "In case Singur fails, the roll-out is expected from that plant; its capacity could be ramped up later on.”

The initial roll-out may get deferred by a month while the final scale-up may take at least six months.

Other than size, the Ace and Nano share the same production team and similar vendor bases. The Ace was developed by a team headed by Girish Wagh in 2005, which later invented the Nano.

Even the size of the Pantnagar plant at 1,000 acres is similar to Singur. “Even if the Singur issue doesn’t get resolved, the Nano roll-out is expected to happen on time from their other facilities, either in Pantnagar or Pune (Pimpri),” said Manish Bandi, vice-president, India Infoline.

Some believe the Nano will be manufactured at other places as well even if the Singur imbroglio cools off. “It is very possible that Tata Motors may move out of Singur,” said the head of a leading investment house, on condition of anonymity. Even if Singur “works out”, it will not be a great success as employees “won’t be willing to go there”.