10 Jan 2008 is going to be a landmark day for the Indian Automobile industry. Some say it’s a land mark day for even the global automobile industry equating the event to the iconic launch of the first mass produced Ford T and the launch of the Volkswagen Beetle. What event are we talking about did you say..well we are talking about the unveiling of The People’s Car, The One Lakh, The second truly indigenous car; the much talked about One Lakh car – The Tata NANO.
The car does look nifty. In fact “cute” was the common refrain from the majority at Indo Car Expo including Anand Mahindra. It comes in two variants of standard and deluxe. It will be available in diesel and petrol version as well. The standard petrol version is priced at Rs. 1 lakh ex-showroom. You would have to shell out VAT, Road tax and insurance in addition to the price. The other versions’ price tag hasnt been announced as yet.
Price wise it’s nearest competitor is the Maruti 800 which carries an ex-showroom price tag of 1.94 lakh. Mr. Ratan Tata in his speech during unveiling said that “it’s 8% smaller than Maruti externally but is 21% spacier inside” Having a 600cc engine ensures that the mileage (pegged at 20 kmpl) is going to be better than others. The maximum speed is at 90kmph so you can expect a realistic cruise speed of 60-65 kmph. The engine is in the rear and the front bonnet/dickey(??) hosts the battery, spare tyre and has room for a single suitcase. The car has a single wind-shield wiper and there’s no A/c or power steering in the standard version.
Some of the facts are a bit disconcerting though. The parts are not welded but stuck together by adhesives. The glass portions of the car seem to be a bit too much which might result in the occupants inadvertently taking sun bathing sessions whenever they go for a spin. Many people are highlighting the absence of ABS, Air bags and power windows(??) but frankly the target audience of this car aren’t looking for these features anyways. The adherence to the emission norms of Bharat III is a slap on the face of the detractors who were harping about the pollution concerns of the car even before it was launched.
As with any innovative product or revolutionary idea, the consumers stand to be benefited at the end of the day. The day the Nano hits the road you will either have a Maruti 800 that’s cheaper or you will have a better car at the same price. The families of three who were so far traveling precariously perched on their two seater can savor safer prospects in the future. And finally this is one car than a father can gift his teen aged son without worrying about him over speeding
Tata Motors has definitely come a long way now and they have definitely etched their names in the pages of Automobile History. But their journey is still not concluded. They still have to get their factory at Singur on track before mass production can start. And Mamta “don’t you dare to do something good in this life” Banarjee is still a massive road block ahead of them.