Mumbai / New Delhi: India’s largest automobile maker by revenue, Tata Motors Ltd, which is conducting inspections of the Nano after two incidents of fire that it investigated, has asked its service centres to replace the fuel pipe in the world’s cheapest car.
The fuel pipe is a critical part located under the hood of the car and channels fuel from the tank to the engine.
According to service employees at the company’s dealerships in Mumbai, Gurgaon and Chandigarh, Tata Motors sent out a communication on 22 May instructing the workshops to change the fuel pipes in Nanos manufactured before February 2010.
Tata Motors commenced delivery of the Nano in July and sold 30,390 units of the car in the fiscal that ended in March.
At one Tata Motors service centre, the fuel pipe would be changed in around 500 Nanos, said its Mumbai-based deputy general manager, who didn’t want to be named because he is not authorized to speak with the media.
In an emailed response to queries from Mint, Tata Motors spokesman Debasis Ray denied any problems with the fuel pipe.
“There are no issues with the fuel line,” he said. “We are adding fuel lines with additional protection.”
Auto expert Murad Ali Baig said the replacement of the part may be a precautionary measure.
“During the course of investigation, they might have realized that the quality of the pipe needs to be better,” he said.
The company may also have acted to ensure that the fuel pipe isn’t close to any electrical parts such as the alternator or batteries that can potentially cause a fire, Baig said.
Tata Motors said earlier this month that it will inspect all Nanos following the two incidents in which the cars caught fire.
Tests were conducted by a 20-member internal team and an independent forensic expert to pin down the cause of the fires.
One of the incidents was attributable to the “remnants of a foreign object on the hot exhaust system”, while the second incident was because of a ruptured fuel line, Tata Motors said.
“Tata Motors assures all customers that the Tata Nano is a safe car, with a robust design and state-of-the-art components,” the company said. “The investigation reveals that the incidents in these two cars, which were being transported to or from dealers, were isolated instances and the reasons are unrelated.”
At a Tata Motors dealership in Gurgaon, Nanos were being inspected and returned to owners in 3 hours.
An employee at a dealership said the undercarriage of the car was being thoroughly inspected and any parts found defective were being changed. The inspections take about an hour, he added.
Global car makers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Co. had to recall vehicles in the recent past because of alleged defects.
Tata Motors has stressed that the inspections of the Nano do not constitute a recall of the car.
“The magnitude of the performance issue determines the manner in which product recall is done,” said a senior executive at a global consulting firm who declined to be named as his employer counts several auto makers among its clients.
Auto makers have to protect both their reputation and the interests of their customers, the executive said.