Mumbai/ Pune:Despite expectations that only motorcycle and scooter owners would upgrade to Tata Motors Ltd’s Nano small car, the vehicle is also attracting attention from those who already own bigger cars.
Pune builder Vinod Sanghvi is one such. He owns a Honda City, a Tata Indigo and a Maruti 800, but has still bought two application forms to book the Nano—one for himself and the other for his wife.
“What sold me the car was its economies—mileage and the initial purchasing cost—and the fact that it is roomy despite being such a small vehicle,” said Sanghvi, 52, who plans to use the bigger cars only to travel out of town or for something special in the evenings.
Beyond class: A Tata Nano on display at a Westside store in Mumbai. It is largely people from the upper middle class and higher economic strata who have been showing interest in the car. Ashesh Shah / Mint
At Mumbai’s High Street Phoenix Mills, where the Nano was on display, Vishwas and Carolina, senior consultants at a multinational firm, were buying their application form at Croma, a Tata group-owned electronics retail chain.
“It’s easily manoeuvrable and easy to park. I think it looks cool and resembles the BMW Smart,” said Carolina. The couple, who declined to give their last name, already own a Skoda Octavia sedan.
Tata Motors announced the commercial launch of the Nano on 23 March. Applications went on sale on 1 April. Bookings for the car begin on Thursday and sales in July. Applications will be accepted till 25 April and Tata Motors will announce allotments by lottery of the first 100,000 cars within 60 days after bookings close.
While analysts are unwilling to hazard a guess on the total number of bookings as not everyone buying the form may end up buying the car, they believe that one of the reasons behind the subdued response from two-wheeler owners could be the cost of ownership.
“The Nano will still be at least two-three times costlier than a two-wheeler, hence the bleak response,” said Mahantesh Sabarad, an analyst with Centrum Broking Pvt. Ltd.
Dealers expect interest to pick up towards the deadline. “In the typical Indian way, I expect the bulk of the people to come rushing in for booking in the last five days,” said a Pune-based dealer, who declined being named.
Arun Kumar, vice-president at Hyson Motors (P) Ltd, a Thrissur, Kerala-based dealer of Tata Motors, said the stream of potential buyers ranges from a government clerk to a doctor to an engineer, even an actor. It is largely people from the upper middle class and higher economic strata who have been showing interest in the car, primarily as a second or third vehicle, Kumar said.
This experience is echoed by dealers in other cities. A dealer at New Delhi-based A-One Motors, who has sold 315 application forms so far, said: “Most (potential) buyers already have a car; there seem to be few two-wheeler buyers upgrading to the Nano.”
Sanjay Chandra, director at Fortune Cars Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based Tata Motors dealer, said the Nano’s customer profile ranges from two-wheeler to Mercedes owners. “We even had enquiries from some of the corporates who wanted to buy as many as 200 Nanos to offer it as a perk to their employees. But as it’s against Tata Motors’ policy of one person, one car, we had to turn down such requests,” he said.
The Nano is also finding interested buyers in unexpected quarters. A group of senior citizens in Pune, all grandmothers and tired of being the last on the waiting list for the family car, have decided to pool Rs25,000 each to buy themselves a collectively owned car, a dealer in the city said. He declined to be identified to protect the identity of this group of customers.
“The women spoke about how they find it embarrassing to keep asking their sons or daughters-in-law to give them the car so that they can go out to meet friends or go to the temple or any other chore,” he said. “Now that the Nano is available, they said they will pool their money to buy one and employ a driver to take them around, so that they are not dependent on anyone nor do they have to inconvenience their families by asking for the driver and car.”
Ajayan in Kochi and Samar Srivastava in New Delhi contributed to this story.