In the Nano’s Headlights
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The Nano has more than lived up to its nickname — the people’s car. Judging by reports that the car has attracted bookings of close to a million, the market has now confirmed that the car has been a stupendous achievement for Tata Motors and its chairman, Ratan Tata, who conceived of just such a vehicle and marshalled his forces to deliver what most auto-makers had declared would be an impossible task. It is a tribute to India’s achievements in low-cost innovation that the global automobile giants have been forced to sit up and take notice of Tata Motors’ ability to design, develop and sell a sub-compact car at the lowest possible cost. Consider this: even a DVD player in some US cars is priced at over Rs 1 lakh. At the heart of the innovation was obviously Mr Tata and his team’s ability to think out of the box and dream beyond the obvious in manufacturing and designing a product with the right mix of parameters. The cost factor — Rs 1 lakh, defined finally as ex-factory and not cost to the consumer — meant that the company had to adopt a clean-sheet-of-paper approach, which meant all components of the car had to be designed from scratch, with nothing carried over from Tata’s other vehicles, or any models of competitors. However, the biggest reason why Nano is a great innovation is because it thinks about the next decade and not just the next quarter.