In the biggest-ever replacement exercise in Indian automobile history, Tata Motors has asked an estimated 140,000 Nano owners to bring back their cars for change of the starter motor free-of-cost.
Vehemently denying this was a recall, the company said it was changing the old starter motor with a new and 'better' one, an exercise that will reportedly cost the firm Rs 110 crore.
"We have devised a better starter motor and so we are upgrading it in our old Nanos for improved performance. We have not received any complaint for this and this is not a recall," a Tata Motors spokesperson said. The company started the exercise in October and has already replaced the starter motor in about 50,000 Nano units, he added.
When asked about the total number of cars will be covered under this replacement activity, the spokesperson said: "We will change the part in all the old Nanos that were sold before launching the Nano 2012 in November." According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers data, Tata Motors had sold a total of 1,40,428 Nano units till November, 2011, since the car's launch in 2009.
On November 21 this year, Tata Motors introduced an upgraded Nano with a facelift, a more powerful engine, better fuel efficiency and new features, while keeping the price the same, in a bid to boost sales.
Asked about the cost of replacing the starter motors, the spokesperson declined to comment. However, as per reports, the company is likely to incur a total outgo of Rs 110 crore for replacing the key component, which is responsible for starting the engine.
This is not the first instance of the homegrown auto major asking its customers to take their Nanos to the service centre. In November, 2010, Tata Motors asked about 70,000 Nano buyers to bring back their cars to add fire safety devices free-of-cost after a series of instances of the car catching fire.
Talking about the exercise, IHS Automotive India Head Deepesh Rathore said: "Tata Motors, like any other car maker, wants to ensure that its customers are satisfied with their product. So they are willingly replacing the starters in all available Nanos in the market."
However, industry players, who did not wish to be named, said Tata Motors has been facing issues with the Nano and its customers are not "so happy" with the performance of the car. Hence, the company is trying every possible way to satisfy its customers. Earlier, market leader Maruti Suzuki India's recall of one lakh units of its A-Star hatchback in 2009 to replace a fuel pump gasket to check possible fuel leakage was the biggest. In September this year, Honda Siel Cars India said it would call back 72,115 units of its flagship mid-sized City sedan to replace defective power window switches.
Last week, Toyota Kirloskar Motor announced the recall of 41,000 units of its Etios sedan and Liva small car in India to replace a faulty inlet pipe to the fuel tank.