Tata tests markets for Nano export


Amid speculation about the future of its iconic brand — Tata Nano — in India, following a dip in sales in November, Tata Motors has something to cheer about. Several countries have expressed interest in the people’s car.

The rising prospect of the Nano doing well in international markets has prompted India’s largest vehicle maker to hold customer clinics in several countries.

Some little known overseas vehicle and non-auto companies have also come forward to seek a licence for manufacturing the Nano and have discussed the matter with Tata Motors.

Since its launch in March 2009, Tata’s small car has generated excitement in many South American, South East Asian, West Asia and African countries. Heads of states of some of these countries have also held talks with the Mumbai-based company to set up manufacturing facilities.

Tata Motors is developing special variants of the Nano for the European and US markets. The high-end models, costlier than the model sold in India, will be launched in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

“As for exports of the Tata Nano, our focus is right now on India. However, Tata Motors has all along been conscious that the Nano will be appropriate for other countries as well. Hence, even at the time of the unveiling in January 2008, the company had said the Tata Nano will be, over time, marketed in other relevant countries. At present, we have started customer clinics in several countries,” said a Tata Motors spokesperson.

Sources said the company was keen on starting with countries in this region, including Thailand and Taiwan, before reaching out to markets in other parts of the world. Turkey, Brazil and Romania have also shown keen interest.

Generating employment is a primary reason why some of these countries have shown eagerness to launch the Nano in their markets. Besides, a car manufacturing plant can spur demand for components that would further generate employment.

Since car models sold in India are different from those sold overseas, with some technical changes made to the suspension or engine power, the Indian version of the Nano will also be tuned to suit standards set by some of the export markets other than the US and Europe.

Recently, Theodore Huang, chairman of the Teco Group of Taiwan, which specialises in making industrial motors and home appliances, expressed his keenness to make and sell the Nano in Taiwan. According to Huang, the Nano will be priced at $5,000-6,700 in Taiwan, including local taxes. This would make the car substantially cheaper than the cheapest car currently sold in Taiwan for $13,400.

To tide over the lukewarm response back home, Tata Motors is trying to win customers for the Nano through several coordinated initiatives such as offering easy loans for the car, extending service and guarantee schemes and free check ups.

The company has raised production at the Sanand plant in Gujarat from the lows of November and ‘is in line with the company’s plan’, the spokesperson said.