RIP, Tata Nano: World’s cheapest car goes up in smoke
By Anjani Trivedi
A moment of silence, please, for the world’s cheapest car, which has all but died in India. It was almost 10 years old.
The Nano’s death was confirmed by production numbers: Tata Motors Ltd. produced 1 unit in June, down from 275 in the same month last year. Exports were zero, versus 25 in June 2017. The company acknowledged that the car in its “present form cannot continue beyond 2019.”
The expiry of the “people’s car,” as Tata Motors branded it in 2008, holds lessons for automakers hoping to make it in India: While consumers may be value-conscious, cutting costs to the bone in pursuit of a gimmicky claim to fame is no use if the end result is a second-rate vehicle with a tendency to catch fire.
The Nano’s failure to sell stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Indian car market. From motorbikes to cars and trucks, growth in every segment is picking up. Passenger vehicles, including SUVs, jumped 38 percent in June. Commercial vehicles climbed 42 percent, while two-wheelers – which dominate the market – gained 22 percent.