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Marketing Nano as world’s cheapest car affected its popularity: India’s business tycoon

Rata Tata poses for picture near minicar Nano. File Pic
Rata Tata poses for picture near minicar Nano. File Pic

The Indian business tycoon Ratan Tata has said marketing  low budget car “Nano” as the world’s cheapest car was partly to be blamed for its failure to gain popularity.

New Delhi, Nov 30/Nationalturk – The Indian business tycoon Ratan Tata has for the first time admitted marketing “Nano” as the world’s cheapest car was partly to be blame for its failure to gain popularity in India.

“I believe the low budget minicar (Nano) launched by my company in 2009 still has the potential to take off in the home market (India),” former chairman of India’s Tata Group and present chairman of Emeritus Ratan Tata told CNBC in an interview.

The Nano, termed as the “people’s car” starting at around $2,500 for a stripped-down model, has struggled to gain traction since its launch in 2009. Sales of the vehicle plunged 74 percent on-year during the April-September period to 10,202 units.

‘Nano has been consistent flop in India’

The low-price car, according to business experts, has been a consistent flop in India.

The Indian billionaire said they are trying to re-launch Nano with some of differences. “The company has plans to launch Nano outside Indian market,” he said without giving any timeframe.

“Maybe it gets launched in another country like Indonesia, where it doesn’t have the stigma and the new image comes back to India. Or maybe as a changed product that gets marketed in Europe. There’s a lot of interest in Nano outside India,” said Tata, who stepped down as chairman of multinational conglomerate Tata Group in 2012.

Tata Motors introduced new model of Nano

In October, Tata Motors introduced a new model of the car, the Nano CNG emax – an eco-friendly variant of the original Nano that can run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas –in a bid to revive sales.  The automaker is also slated to launch a diesel-powered version of the vehicle by the end of March 2014. The fuel is cheaper than gasoline thanks to government subsidies.

Ratan Tata admitted that marketing around the Nano as the world’s cheapest car is partly to blame for its failure to gain popularity.

But Nano has failed to live up to the expectations after being hyped as the cheapest car to hit the roads. It sales have been dwindling despite the company’s attempts to reposition it. In the April-October period this fiscal, it clocked just 12,322 units as against 43,627 units in the year-ago period, down 71.7 percent.

‘It should have been promoted as safe alternative’

“Instead, it should have been promoted as a safer alternative for the millions of families who tend to crowd more than two members onto two-wheelers,” Tata said.

He added, “I always felt the Nano should have been marketed towards the owner of a two-wheeler because it was conceived to give people who rode on two-wheeler an all-weather, safe form of transportation, not (the) cheapest”.

“It became to be termed as cheapest car by people and by the company when it was being marketed, which I think was a mistake,” added Tata.

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Faiz Ahmad / NationalTurk India News

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