Tata Motors sold 6,017 units of its small car Nano in April-July. This was a drastic dip from the 27,625 units it had sold in the same period a year earlier — and nowhere close to the company’s target of selling 20,000 units a month.
Pushed to the wall, the company is giving the car — the brainchild of erstwhile Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata — the biggest makeover since its launch in March 2009, putting in a host of features such as a start-stop technology, power steering, a diesel engine and a bi-fuel CNG/gasoline engine to reposition the car as an urban vehicle. The start-stop technology turns off the engine when the vehicle stops, conserving fuel.
Industry watchers believe that the move could help the company.
“Nano’s positioning as a cheap car put off customers. The current repositioning will help. However, a lot more needs to be done to achieve a cult status as a city car for youth,” said VG Ramakrishnan, global co-leader, auto practice, Frost & Sullivan.
Since sales of the Nano are at a nadir, the question is how much of a difference the rejig would achieve.
“From the current 1,000-1,500 sales may go up to 3,000-3,500 units. I don’t expect a spectacular increase beyond this,” said Surjit Arora, auto analyst with broking house Prabhudas Liladhar.
Another analyst with a major brokerage, who did not wish to be identified, said that it would be very difficult for the Nano to achieve a meaningful recovery after such a bad start.
This massive upgrade is the first facelift for the Nano since late 2011, when Tata Motors enhanced its fuel efficiency to 25 kilometres per litre.
The company may have however got the timing right for the repositioning, felt analysts.
“The company faces challenges in terms of the current subdued sentiments and perception associated with the product,” said Arora. “However, customers shifting to cars such as Nano in a downtrend like this may work in its favour.”