Tata Nano’s potential was not fully exploited and the world’s cheapest car needed another push to boost sales, said Tata Motors Ltd Chairman Ratan Tata.
“The Nano is something I would love to take as a challenge to make successful, because I don’t think it’s exploited its full potential right now,” Tata said in an interview telecast on Bloomberg UTV on Tuesday.
“(I would) love to be involved rather than think this is the level that we were taking it to. I think, as time goes on, that task would become more difficult. So, I feel that there needs to be another push to make the Nano what I think it can be,” he added.
After hitting a high of 10,400 units in sales in March, Nano sales have now stabilised at around 5,500 units per month, far below the installed capacity of the Nano factory in Sanand, Gujarat, at 250,000 units per year.
Tata Motors has invested over Rs 2,000 crore in setting up the Sanand facility, whose capacity can be increased to 500,000 units. Last year, the company sold 74,527 units, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
He added that he was open to assist the firm, if asked, even after retirement. Tata is scheduled to retire as the chairman of the Tata Group by the year-end.
Tata said he intended to increase the number of locally assembled Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR) products, the group’s luxury models produced in the UK, to make them more affordable for Indian customers. Presently, only one model, the Freelander 2, is assembled in India at a plant in Pune.
“We are assembling one model of the Land Rover today. We may do more or some sedan products. (Jaguar) XF, may be, if that makes sense and one day there may be the Land Rover Defender also to serve Asian and African markets,” added Tata.
In addition, Tata Motors would enhance the joint development work with JLR in areas like engines and platforms. This is aimed at driving down costs and employing better utilisation of resources. Tata Motors and JLR have begun to jointly work on research and development (R&D) at a centre in Pune.
“We are looking at sharing projects and products and assembling products to overcome tariff. We will have common platforms and joint engine projects,” added Tata.
On the successful acquisition and turnaround of the UK-based Jaguar and Land Rover, Tata said: “JLR was an achievement and I am very proud of what JLR has been able to do in the market place. We have succeeded in dispelling the apprehension that people had with us Indianising the compan. The goal I had set, which I hope can be achieved, was to restore these two brands to their original glory as an English company”.
Regarding the launch of the Indica model, he said: “Developing an indigenous car that was the Indica was a high to me because it was a fulfilment of something that I thought could be done and everybody else said it couldn’t be. The other would be the Nano, which evoked much more international attention than I had ever estimated.”
He also highlighted the low point in his career when the company was forced to quit West Bengal where it had plans to set the Nano plant.
"Singur and its problems (were the low points), having to move the plant and loose the time as the Nano was delayed by a year. We would have never participated in something which was inherently unfair and unjust so I think it was drummed into a political issue," Tata added.