Take a look at the picture below. Looks like a regular Tata Nano, doesn’t it? It’s not. It is, in fact, a test mule of the Nano diesel, which was caught frolicking in the outskirts of Pune.
The photo was snapped by alert folks at Motorbeam. Sources report that the Nano diesel had left-hand-drive versions of the Tata Aria crossover and Indica Vista hatchback for company. We aren’t sure what the other two vehicles were doing there but their presence hints at the company’s plans for export markets.
The Nano diesel has been caught being testing earlier as well, on the Mumbai-Pune expressway, in April 2010. The comprehensive 11-month testing (April 2010 – March 2011) talks a lot about Tata’s seriousness about ensuring the Nano diesel meets all testing parameters before launch.
Tata is tight-lipped about the diesel Nano’s launch date though we’re guessing it should be out by September 2011. Related: Tata Nano diesel launch in September 2011
Nano diesel with a DICOR engine?
The engine, developed by Tata Motors and Bosch, was initially expected to be in the 600 cc – 700 cc range, as with the current petrol Nano (which has a 623 cc mill). But in January 2011, we learned that Bosch was developing a 1.1-litre comon rail system for the Nano diesel. Bosch Automotive Group Chairman Bernd Bohr had then said that his company was partnering with Tata Motors to build the starter, the front drum-brakes and the rear drum-brakes, the alternator, and the fuel-injection system. Related: Bosch develops special diesel engine for Tata Nano
Speculations suggest the Nano diesel would feature DICOR (Direct Injection Common Rail) technology that will deliver a fuel efficiency of around 30 km/litre. Tata Motors has used the DICOR technology in its Indica, Indigo, Safari models, as well.
Will Nano diesel replicate the Indica diesel’s success?
Tata Motors was the first to introduce a small-size diesel engine, the 1.2 litre motor in its Indica, a decade ago. However, today there are several diesel hatchbacks such as the Maruti Swift & Ritz, Ford Figo, Volkswagen Polo, Hyundai i20, Fiat Punto etc, with engine capacities below 1,500 cc.
In fact, the competition is going to heat up further with the 1.0-litre diesel engine-powered Chevrolet Beat‘s launch. Even then, the Nano diesel could have significant advantage in terms of price and the mileage.
Currently, Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai, the two most dominant players in small car segment, don’t have a single small diesel car in the sub-Rs. 4.5 lakh hatchback segment (Alto, Wagon-R, Santro, i10 included). This puts Tata at an advantage as the Nano diesel would be a first of its kind. Also, at around Rs. 2.5 lakh, the Nano diesel’s price would be hard to beat.