A decade ago, Indian automaker Tata was making a lot of noise. It wasn’t because they were working on a new SUV, a luxury saloon, or some kind of high-performance supercar; they were launching the Nano.
The proposition of success was there: the Nano was going to be world’s cheapest brand new car. And given the growth and numbers of the Indian auto market alone, success was only a matter of time. Or so we thought.
Tata has just confirmed via several sources that lackluster sales have prompted them to finally send the Nano into the history books as a failed automotive experiment. It will no longer be produced next year.
The Nano was indeed promising, and could have been successfully exported to other developing markets especially since it was (de facto) targeted at consumers wanting to step up to an automobile from a motorcycle. At its starting pricetag of just USD 3500 (just under PhP 188,000) in India, it looked very promising to put the subcontinent and many other markets on four wheels.
But they couldn't cut it. While loaded with potential when Tata launched it in 2008, the Nano failed to succeed. Journalists cited how Tata cut corners and engineered it to be as cheap as possible, but not cheerful. Air conditioning was not standard, and neither are safety features that we consider as essential. All this was all done to lower the price, redefining the term bare bones.
The numbers are telling. AutoNews reports that Tata produced 275 units of the Nano in June 2017. In June 2018, only one Nano rolled out of their factory. The Nano flopped as an export car too; in June 2017, they send 25 units of the Nano abroad. Last month, that number was nil. Zero.
Those numbers are in stark contrast to a strong Indian auto market that has grown 12% in the last fiscal year (April 2017-March 2018) to just over 4 million automobiles. Leading the charge is Maruti Suzuki with a market share of almost 50%.