New Delhi: Tata Motors Ltd has decided to install additional safety features in the at least 70,000 Nanos already sold, if the owners want them, in an attempt to prevent the car from catching fire.
Since its high-decibel launch in March 2009, there have been six known instances of the car catching fire.
In the latest of these, a Nano caught fire in the capital on 17 August, three months after a company probe had declared the car “absolutely safe”.
“We have decided to make the car even more robust. We will do this by providing additional protection in the exhaust system and the electrical system,” the company said in a release issued on Wednesday.
The release added that its efforts do not constitute “a recall”.
The statement comes a day after Tata Motors’ group chief executive and managing director Carl-Peter Forster said at a press conference while announcing the firm’s second quarter results that the auto maker planned to introduce additional safety features in the small car in the wake of some reports of the car catching fire.
As part of the safety mechanism, the company will offer to cover the catalytic converter to prevent the car from catching fire.
It will also install a fuse in the electrical components to avoid short circuits.
“Beginning third week of November, each owner will be informed about these measures. The option lies with our customers on whether they would like to avail these measures. This will be provided at no cost to customers,” the company’s statement added.
Earlier in the day, Tata Motors’ managing director (India operations) P.M. Telang told PTI, “We are quite convinced that Nano is safe, based on our investigations. However, we feel that probably there may be some extraneous circumstances where people may want additional protection.”
Tata Motors has sold more than 70,000 Nanos and recently started sales of the small car in Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
The company said that an investigation by a team of international experts has once again concluded that the reasons for the fires in a few Nanos are specific to the cars. “We have noticed instances of additional foreign electrical equipment having been installed or foreign material left on the exhaust system.”
Sales of the Nano have dropped from 9,000 in July to 8,103 in August, 5,520 in September and 3,002 units in October.
The auto maker has said capacity constraints have affected its ability to service the market with adequate cars, but analysts attribute declining sales to the lack of attractive financing options and fears arising from reports about the cars catching fire. “These kinds of reports have affected the brand value of the car,” added a consultant who spoke on condition of anonymity.
PTI contributed to this story.