Nano sales will pick up in Bengal


The tumultuous relationship between the Tata Nano, the world's cheapest car, and West Bengal, where it was originally planned to be manufactured, remains as curious as ever.

Even as Tata Motors, makers of the Nano, last week reported that sales of the small car in November had fallen by 85 per cent on a year-on-year basis, dealerships and salesmen of the vehicle in West Bengal remain optimistic over its future prospects.

Across the state, dealerships are pointing out that existing customers of the Nano are satisfied with the product, in spite of numerous reports of the vehicle erratically catching fire over the last year. Off the shelf sales of the Nano in West Bengal started on November 20, after over a year of retailing through the booking process.

Moreover, prospective customers in the larger cities and towns are posing to be more problematic to Nano salesmen, compared to the hinterland, where the volumes are expected to rise steadily going forward.

"The sales are happening as per plan and we are meeting the targets. The first hand feedback that we are getting is that customers are satisfied," said Sanjay Bajla of Bajla Motors, one of the two dealerships for the Tata Nano in Siliguri.

While Bajla, who himself claims to drive a Nano, refused to divulge any sales figures of the previous months, he added, "In my opinion, now that the hype over the Nano is over, the actual buyers of the car are coming. And they are happy with it."

The situation is supposedly no different in Kolkata. An official of Lexus Motors, among the three dealers of the car in the city, said that about 70 Nano had been sold by them in the last month, and existing customers "had no issues" with the vehicle.

Tata Motors, in a statement last month, had said that about 85 per cent of their customers were "satisfied or very satisfied with the car", while reiterating that "the Tata Nano is a safe car with a robust design, state-of-the-art components and built with an uncompromising attention to quality in all aspects".

In districts like Bardhaman and Bankura, however, salesmen of the Nano are seeing a lack of demand in the larger towns, and instead are concentrating on the outlying areas.

"In spite of demos (demonstrations), there is not much response in a city like Asansol. But on the outskirts, the response of the customers is good," said an official of BD Motors, which is dealer for the Tata Nano in the districts of Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia and Bardhaman.

"On the outskirts, you have the absolutely middle-class customers who have minimal requirements. They are interested in the Nano, and those are the real customers for the car, now that the initial hype has died down," another official from the dealership said.

So, while Tata Motors may have to push hard to sell a handful of the world's cheapest car in a tier II city like Asansol, according to dealership officials, it will have little trouble selling over three dozen Nano's in whole of agriculture-dependent Bankura district every month.

But that is ironic, since the Tata Nano project was driven out of West Bengal on the back of a farmers' revolt.