The Nano’s Run: From The World’s Cheapest To The Most Expensive.

Nano’s New Bling Add To Diwali Sparkle

When Ratan Tata unveiled the Nano in Mumbai on January 2008, he took us on a small journey – “a journey that symbolizes the human spirit of change, the will to question the unquestionable, the drive to stretch the envelope.”

The story of the Nano began when Tata saw families riding on two wheelers, the father driving a scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife sitting behind him holding a baby. He asked himself whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all weather form of transport for such a family. “A vehicle that could be affordable and low cost enough to be within everyone’s reach, a people’s car, built to meet all safety standards, designed to meet or exceed emission norms and be low in pollution and high in fuel efficiency. This then was the dream we set ourselves to achieve.”

At Cornell University, Tata said he wanted to provide inexpensive, safe transportation to the masses — putting it within the reach of the 300 million to 500 million members of India’s growing middle class — but had no desire to simply make “a trendy, affordable car.”

Thus India got a new car from Tata Motors, the people’s car that everyone was waiting for. At 1000 AUD it was touted to be the world’s cheapest car and fulfilled every middle class Indian’s dream of owning a car.

Alluding to fears expressed by that the car at that price would add more vehicles on the road leading to higher vehicular pollution, Tata said the 624 cc, 33 HP petrol engine meets Bharat Stage-III emission norms and can also meet the Euro 4 norms.

Launched in March 2009, the car drew instant international attention, but was faced with production issues.

Tata Motors was forced to move the Nano factory from Singur in West Bengal following an agitation over land acquisition. Before settling on Sanand, the company had to make Nanos in the interim at its plant in Pantnagar in Uttarakhand. The Sanand plant started production in June, helping the company clear initial bookings made in 2009. The car was put into mass production in June 2010.

The world’s cheapest car is now on its way to becoming the world’s most expensive car. Despite a steep decline in August sales to just 1,202 units as reported (analysts blame it on the fall on safety issues, poor marketing and a misunderstanding of the Indian consumer), the Nano it seems is still worth its weight in gold. This September, Tata unveiled a Nano car – made with gold and silver, and studded with precious stones.

The GoldPlus Nano, worth Rs 22 crore (an ordinary Nano costs Rs 1.4 lakh), is a branding initiative by Goldplus Jewellery, part of Titan Industries, a subsidiary of the Tata Group. It is made of 80 kg gold, 15 kg silver and gem stones. Goldplus is celebrating 5000 years of India’s jewellery tradition with a special edition of the Tata Nano plated with real gold, an official said.

Goldplus conducted an online poll to choose the design for the car. Users were asked to choose one from the three short-listed designs: Goldplus Nano 1, Goldplus Nano 2 and Goldplus Nano 3.The Goldplus Nano 1 emerged as the winner in the public poll and is now the official Goldplus Nano. Goldplus Nano 1 also uses techniques like granulation, temple setting, stamp work and open polki.

The golden Nano will not be on sale and will be retained by the Tata Group. Reports say this car might be used as a marketing tool to prop up the sagging sales of the Nano. After its glittering launch in Mumbai, the Goldplus Nano Car will travel to all the Goldplus showrooms at 29 locations around the country.

From cheap to bling, the Nano is in the news. A bit of glitterati just before Diwali for Indian consumers!

By Indira Laisram