Sri Lanka was the first country in the world where the Tata Nano hit the taxi circuit as a radio cab. Now, the world’s least priced hatchback has become a taxi in India too, what with the TaxiForSure app based cab service provider inducting 100 Nano hatchbacks onto Bangalore roads. These taxis are owned by independent operators and TaxiForSure acts as a cab aggregating service, linking the taxi driver to the passenger. The Nano taxi in Bangalore is poised to give autorickshaws a run for their monies, as fares are extremely competitive.
The Tata Nano taxis in Bangalore come with a base fare of 25 rupees for the first two kilometers, with each additional kilometer charged at 10 rupees. In contrast, state government regulated autorickshaw fares in Bangalore start at 25 rupees for the first 1.9 kilometers with every subsequent kilometer charged at 13 rupees. Autorickshaw drivers also charge double the regular fare during the sleeping hours (10 PM to 6 AM). However, TaxiForSure’s Nano cab service does not have variable pricing and the fares remain the same across 24 hours.
If the Nano cab service from TaxiForSure in Bangalore proves to be a hit, other cab aggregator services across the country are likely to induct the world’s least priced hatchback into low cost taxi fleets. Also, Tata Motors’ CNG option for the Nano makes the car particularly cost effective in those cities where CNG dispensing mechanism is well developed. The adoption of the Tata Nano as a low cost cab could come as a second lease of life for the car, which is struggling to sell in the image conscious Indian car market. Poor sales of the Nano has meant that Tata Motors is operating its Sanand factory in Gujarat at very low outputs.
While inducting the Nano as a low cost taxi on Indian roads could help spur sales of the car, this move is likely to do no good as far as the car’s image is concerned. Many first time car buyers in India eschew the Nano, owing to the downmarket image that the car is stuck with. More Nano hatchbacks seen as low cost taxis on Indian roads will further drive home the point that the car is comparable to an autorickshaw in terms of image. This is at odds with Tata Motors’ efforts to take the Nano upmarket by introducing new features into the car, making the car a trendy, compact and affordable mobility option for city slickers.