Tata Motors’ small car Nano is inching closer towards the end of its journey with just one unit produced in June, although the company maintained that no decision has been taken yet on stopping its production.
The entry-level car, the brainchild of Ratan Tata who envisaged giving a safer and affordable alternative to families riding on two-wheelers, sold just three units last month in the domestic market.
In a regulatory filing, Tata Motors said there was no export of Nano in June this year. It had shipped 25 units in the same month last year.
In terms of production, only one unit was produced last month as against 275 units in June 2017.
Domestic sales were at three units in June as against 167 units in the year-ago month.
When contacted for comments on whether the company has taken a decision to stop Nano production, a Tata Motors spokesperson said, “We are well aware that the Nano in its present form cannot continue beyond 2019 and may need fresh investments to survive. No decision has been made yet in this regard.”
The spokesperson further said, “Meanwhile, we continue to produce Nano catering to customer demand in key markets.”
Nano, which was unveiled in January 2008 at the Auto Expo with much expectations of being the people’s car, could not live up to the billing.
The car was launched in the market in March 2009 with an initial price of close to Rs 1 lakh for the basic model despite cost escalations, with Ratan Tata insisting that “a promise is a promise”.
However, from the beginning, Nano courted trouble. It was originally planned to be rolled out from Tata Motors’ proposed plant at Singur in West Bengal, where it faced intense political and farmer protests against land acquisition.
The company had to shift its production to a new plant at Sanand in Gujarat.
Instances of the car catching fire initially after it was launched didn’t help its cause either.
Ratan Tata had admitted that the company made the mistake of promoting the Nano as ‘the cheapest car’.
It become a loss-making model for Tata Motors with ex-Tata Sons chairman Mistry, who was abruptly removed from the post, even went on to claim that the Nano “consistently lost value, peaking at Rs 1,000 crore”.
Mistry also termed the Nano as one of the “legacy hotspots” and there was “no line of sight to profitability for the Nano, any turnaround strategy”.
He had also claimed that Tata Motors did not stop producing the car due to “emotional reasons”.