Really??;seriously??;is it so?;Impossible;are you kidding me?-those were some responses of the Indian people to the OLRC(One lakh rupee car) when Tata Motors proposed the plan of making it. Is it going to be an auto rickshaw with four wheels?;is it a golf cart with doors??;is it going to even look like a car?-Those were some other interesting questions posed. Everything about this small car was kept under wraps during its probation period and it was like a top secret military mission which everyone wanted to know about but couldn’t. Here is a topspeed.com special article written to help you know all that you must about the Tata Nano .
$2500 is a lot of money. But just not enough for owning a new car. Atleast here in evolving countries, you would only end up getting an erroneously maintained second-hand one and there wouldn’t be much to talk about it after that. The Tata s were thinking long and hard on making something that would serve as a boon for a family wanting a car but couldn’t afford a new one. Initially they went ahead and made a concept car, gave it the name ’Zing’ and imposingly displayed it at the Delhi Auto Expo back in 1998.
It was never meant to be a Rs1-lakh car; that happened by circumstance. Ratan Tata was interviewed by the [British newspaper] Financial Times at the Geneva Motor Show and he talked about this future product as a low-cost car. He was asked how much it would cost and he said about Rs1 lakh. The next day the Financial Times had a headline to the effect that the Tatas are to produce a Rs100,000 car.
People voiced it wasn’t possible to make and give something like that for such a less amount. Others went on to say it was another attempt by the publicity-hungry group to grab international attention and some even believed that the Tatas needed to visit a good psychiatrist.
Years passed and people forgot about it until a few years back when the Tatas revisited the mission-impossible they had planned earlier. The production costs were on the rise and analysts and experts confirmed the non-feasibility of the project as it would take a few more years from then on for the development to finish and production to commence. Tata had to come up with something out of the box to make anything close to a car for $2500 but there was a strong belief amongst few that Chairman, Ratan Tata could very well come up with a miracle plan just like he did in 1998, when the Indica hatchback was bestowed.
So the Tatas went on and made another prototype based on the existing prototype. The engineers headed by Girish Wagh, were given this project with ’low cost’ as their framework. None of the people really knew how it would turn out to look like and the majority were expecting the final product to squirt ’cheap and clumsy’ all over. People expressed views that it would look like a small car that suffered from Down’s syndrome or a golf cart that grew doors to conceal its inner ugliness. Some believed that customers would need to pay a premium over the initial deposit for both the engine and the gearbox to be fitted to their car and the steering wheel would well be on the accessory list.
Bits and pieces of news trickled in during the car’s development stage which made people start doubting their initial beliefs and predictions. The joint venture of Italian giants Fiat and the Tatas made the situation more riveting as media reported the intervening. Ratan Tata later confirmed the specifications of the car. Four doors that would provide entry for 4 to 5 people to sit in this rear engined vehicle that would take roll-out in diesel and petrol avatars. It would be the world’s cheapest car and prove to be mobility for the masses. Tata’s business partners who make parts for their existing range were also consulted for making parts for the small car with low cost as the central idea. The sketches and illustrations that came out subsequently revealed the shape and size of the car. It looked like a car, it had a car’s specifications, and it certainly had enough space for four. The petrol version was believed to give 25 km to the liter while the turbocharged diesel would go the extra distance for the same quantity of fuel. The vehicle was also designed to meet Euro 4 norms and regulations.
Then came the speculation about the drastic impact of the car on the badly laid out Indian roads. The knowledgeable group remarked over the possibility of self-destruction in mobility inside the city. Traffic would categorically come to a stand still if Tata would achieve their projected sales targets and if the Indian Government contributed by doing little or nothing. Ratan Tata defended his car by arguing that the Government needed to take necessary measures and steps to get around traffic woes rather than expecting manufacturers to cut down on production. He also pointed out that the emission levels of this car would be as much or rather lesser than a that of a motorcycle.
He came, he spoke and he became a hero. The Delhi Autoexpo in January this year was the venue of this historic moment, when amazement and excitement filled the guests and people from the media. The entire world watched on television, what we believe is "the spark of a new revolution in the Automotive Industry". Everyone including GM, Toyota , Renault , Hyundai want to join the race and give the Nano the run for its money. Some of them were the same individuals who earlier mocked the idea of a $2500 car and insulted and accused Tata and his men by releasing aggressive press statements against the company and quotes that were totally uncalled for.
We all love the privacy that ours cars give us. We love boasting about our cars and in the due course of time after buying one, it somewhat becomes an integral part of our family. We have emotions and sentiments for our cars and they get pampered and caressed like a never aging puppy. It takes us places and more importantly it takes along our loved ones. Imagine the same sensation and feelings experienced by millions of other less fortunate Indians and individuals in developing countries who can not afford to buy or maintain a new car. That’s what is so good about the Tata Nano and not its suspension or the power output of its engine. Its rightly called the "people’s car".