Mumbai: Tata Motors Ltd, the country’s third largest car maker by sales, is in the process of changing the starter motor on close to 100,000 Nanos, which follows safety measures that were implemented in 2010 after some of them caught fire.
The company is replacing the part in all older Nano models with the ones fitted in the 2012 edition of the car, which was introduced in November. The starter motor is the device that starts the engine of the vehicle.
The free replacement offer is not due to any safety concerns, the company spokesman said. Tata Motors started the programme in October and has so far replaced the part in 50,000 Nanos. Some analysts said such a move would be the largest such initiative in the Indian auto industry.
“They are...replacing it with one that has a thermal lining,” said an engine parts vendor for the Nano. The task shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, he said. The company said the reason for the change is better performance.
Tata Motors called back 70,000 Nanos to offer additional safety features in May last year following the fires breaking out.
The company sold 39,646 units of the Nano in the April-November period compared with 40,796 a year ago. The car has been on Indian roads since July 2008.
“There is a possibility that the warranty data might have suggested that the part has been a source of constant irritation to Nano users,” said an industry expert who didn’t want to be named. “They would have, hence, decided to address the issue once and for all.”
It’s a positive step in a country that doesn’t have a recall policy, which means firms are not liable to compensate customers for damage arising from such faults.
Rising competition and slowing car sales are pushing car makers to become more customer friendly, raising the number of similar actions by companies.
On 22 December, Toyota Kirloskar Motor India Pvt. Ltd, the local arm of Toyota Motor Corp., said it will replace parts in the Etios sedan and Liva hatchback. This includes close to 41,000 cars produced until late October.
The local arm of Honda Motor Co. Ltd initiated a similar programme in February when it asked owners to bring back 57,853 City sedans to replace a defective spring that could stall engines, in line with a global initiative.
In April, India’s largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, inspected 13,157 diesel-powered Swift and Ritz cars with engines manufactured between 13 November and 4 December last year to inspect the connecting rod bolt.
The initiative by Tata Motors is a responsible one, but it may not go down well with customers, said Puneet Gupta, an analyst at IHS Automotive, a global research and sales forecasting firm. “The Nano’s image may take a further dent,” Gupta said.
Tata Motors shares rose 0.89% to Rs 186.30 on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday. The benchmark Sensex rose 1.47% to 15,970.75 points.