Tata Nano cars to get pre-emptive checks for fire-related problems

Tata says Nano safe; will conduct checks on all on-road Nano models

Tata Nano cars to get pre-emptive checks for fire-related problems
Photo: The Tata Nano that caught fire in Mumbai (pic courtesy Mid-Day)

Tata Motors announced that an internal probe conducted by the company after two incidents of its cheapest car model Nano catching fire had found the cars to be free of any manufacturing defect. The company said it would nevertheless conduct pre-emptive checks on all Nano cars that have already been sold.

We believe that is the big news here – that there would be pre-emptive checks. Even if Tata Motors believes that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the car, voluntarily calling the cars in for checks would serve to bolster consumer sentiment.

The recent incident of a Tata Nano catching fire had taken place in Mumbai, within an hour and a half of the car being delivered to the customer from the dealership. It was followed by another incident that took place two weeks later, where a Nano caught fire in Anand district of Gujarat.  The two incidents led to concern among the public regarding the safety of the Tata Nano. Tata had then announced a probe into the safety of the vehicle, which was conducted by a team consisting of 20 members including a UK-based independent forensic expert.

The report of the investigation points to a “foreign object” in the exhaust system being the cause of the Nano car fire in Mumbai. It also states that the Nano car that caught fire in Gujarat had a ruptured fuel line. According to the report, there were no manufacturing defects in the vehicles and the two instances of fire were isolated incidents. However, Tata did not reveal the nature of the “foreign object” that was discovered in the Nano that caught fire in Mumbai.

Tata has also announced that it will seek to reassure consumers about the safety of the vehicle by conducting pre-emptive checks on all on-road Nano cars. The process would start from May 24 onwards by contacting all Nano customers individually and fixing service appointments with them. The service, that includes providing additional protection wherever necessary, will be conducted free of charge. However, the company clearly stated that the move was not a recall, like the one conducted by Toyota and Honda.

Last year, Tata had changed a particular supplier after a short-circuit incident in three Nano cars. The recent incidents of fire have not affected the sales of the car, according to dealers.

Over 30,000 units of the Nano car have been sold countrywide since Tata began delivering the car in July 2009. The car was launched with a price tag of Rs 1 lakh. The company’s new plant in Sanand in Gujarat created for the manufacture of Nano cars, will increase the total manufacturing capacity of the Nano to 2.5 lakh units, once the plant is commissioned in June.