Pune: As Tata Motors Ltd readies for Monday’s launch of the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, the company’s employees and its distributors are busy tying the loose ends for a smooth roll-out.
Heading the effort is the chairman of the company, Ratan Tata, who drives a Nano whenever he’s at the company’s plant at Pune.
“By doing that, he is putting himself in the place of the buyers of the car, his reasoning being that when he drives it around, he is likely to identify trouble spots or glitches much before the car gets into the market...,” said a parts supplier for the Nano who claims to have heard this story from employees at the factory. He didn’t want to be identified.
Tata Motors is also finishing critical training for its dealers, said two people familiar with the matter who did not want to be identified. Groups of technical staff from dealerships across cities have undergone training at the company’s training centre in Pune the past few weeks, they said.
City-bred: The Tata Nano uses plastic for parts such as engine and cylinder covers as well as fuels rails, instead of aluminium or steel. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
The Tata firm’s engineers and trainers have been stripping the Nano and explaining the technology and machinery to the technical staff from the dealerships. The staff is then asked to put the car together again so “they know the car inside-out”, one of these persons said. Sales staff at dealerships, too, is being coached in using appropriate marketing communication for the car, he added.
While the Nano has contemporary styling and technology, meets the latest emission norms and has cleared European crash test standards, the same features that have helped keep the price for the car ultra inexpensive could raise concerns among buyers, some parts suppliers for the car said.
One of the tough issues to sell could be high use of plastic in the car, some say.
“People could, for instance, worry about the fact that the car uses a lot more plastic than is usually found in conventional cars,” an executive at a Tata supplier said, asking not to be identified. “And the sales person at the dealership has to be able to explain to customers that plastic is not just as tough or tougher than steel, but also helps the performance of the car by making it significantly lighter.”
The Nano uses plastic for parts such as engine and cylinder covers as well as fuels rails, instead of the conventional aluminium or steel.
The hard sell at the dealerships will have to cover potential concerns on the power delivered by the car, especially in stop-go, city driving conditions, another vendor said. “A lot of people will have doubts about the 623cc engine to perform in conditions such as climbing a steep incline, etc. The car salesman has to be able to explain that this is a car designed to be used on city roads,” this executive added.
“The staff at the dealerships will eventually drive sales and it is critical that they know how to explain every vital detail about the car to the consumer.”
These efforts aside, certain other concerns remain. It is still not clear how Tata Motors will handle servicing of the Nano, dubbed “the people’s car”, in rural and semi-urban areas, typically dominated by small garages that service all cars under one roof.
Tata Motors did not reply to an email query sent early Tuesday. Late evening spokesman said he had not been able to look at the mail until then and said he would reply if he could.