The image of Tata Motors’ Nano car as a cheap car that’s an alternative to a motor scooter didn’t actually do much good. That’s why Tata Motors is expected to launch more expensive models that are based on the Nano, the compact car launched in 2008 that only cost $2,000. It’s true that the Nano caught the world’s attention but the market in India didn’t quite match that enthusiasm with sales.
Since deliveries started in July 2009, only 229,157 Nanos have been sold. Sales in March 2013 were 86% lower than in the previous year. According to Tata Managing Director Karl Slym, the Nano won’t be discontinued but instead, it will get improvements meant to revive the model and for its prices to be nearer to those of its competitors.
Slym said that the Nano's marketing "didn't gel with anybody." Those who drove scooters weren’t drawn in since they didn’t see Nano as a real car but as something that’s between a bike and a car. It also didn’t appeal to car owners since it was marketed as a two-wheeler replacement.
To give us an idea of what the company is expecting, he cited the Pixel. This is a Nano-based concept that was displayed at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show.
The two-door hatchback gets the Nano’s skeleton and has “scissor" doors that rotate up from the front as well as an automatic transmission and a diesel engine.
Slym added that the Nano will be available with a broad range of price points to appeal to more types of buyers. Haritha Saranga, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, said that it may not be enough just to update the model or to make variations. Rather, Nano’s present image as a “cheap car” has to be changed.