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Discounting the Tata Nano

John Day

John Day

Posted Jan 17, 2010
1 Comment

BYD (Build Your Dreams) Auto showed its E6 electric sedan at the Detroit Auto Show and indicated that it may begin marketing the vehicle in the U.S. later this year. Great. A car that promises 250 miles on a single charge is more interesting if it’s available globally – not just in the world’s largest automobile market.

With that somewhat parochial thought in mind, it was logical to focus on prospects for a U.S. launch of Tata Motors’ $2,500 Nano, which was unveiled at the Detroit Science Center last week. But executives from Tata Technologies, the Tata unit that helped create the Nano and contributed to 18 patents for its design, declined to speculate on a U.S. launch date or to ballpark a U.S. retail price range.

That’s okay. The version on display wasn’t designed for the U.S. market. It was designed for sale in India to families that would otherwise travel on a motorbike, and that presents a very large opportunity in India and elsewhere. Rides weren’t available, but the car looks good, has an attractive if suitably modest interior, and a surprising amount of room in the back seat. Time will tell if the $2,500 Nano succeeds in India.

Tata plans to launch versions of the Nano in Europe, where its price is expected to be nearer $8,000, and in the U.S. The firm created the Indian car from the ground up, without reference to any earlier model. Can it leverage its experience with the Nano, as well as its experience in contract engineering design and product lifecycle management work for major automakers and tier one suppliers, to create competitive cars for European and U.S. markets? It’s easy to say no by focusing on what the current product lacks, and accomplishments to date are no guarantee of future success, but it seems to me that it’s way too early to count them out.

Tata Technologies, Detroit Auto Show, Detroit Science Center, BYD Auto, Tata Motors, Tata Nano, E6 Eelectric Sedan, Product Lifecycle Management

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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Comments 1

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It is already a success in India. If a new BMW and nano stand next to each other on road people (including myself :)) are staring at nano. That is the popularity it has in India. Amount of backlog that has piled up for nano is huge and actually the money they have in TATA's hands because of registration money for the backlog itself is huge. And competition is way behind in this segment. So, it will recover all its R&D money and more. TATA is already selling EVs in Europe so they know the market needs of Europe. So, I am not sure of huge success but definitely it wont fail. Second thing to consider is recently TATA bought jaguar and Rover. Now they have expertise in their hands too. Lets see how they will use it for next gen.

3:14 AM Jan 19, 2010

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