The Tata Nano has so far been struggling to find its right audience, but it may have finally found the right one. The Tata Nano e-Max CNG that was recently unveiled and scheduled to go on sale a month from now is an ideal urban commuter – here’s why.
The Tata Nano was initially envisioned as a car for the masses – a people’s car – one that would help shift urban India from two wheels to four wheels. When Ratan Tata showcased the car it was projected as the Rs. 1 lakh car, something the world thought near impossible. But he did launch it at that price point. It’s a different matter that rising input costs have now made the Nano more expensive, with the basic version now starting at Rs. 1.45 lakh. Also see: Tata Nano video review
Repositioning the Nano
However, this positioning didn’t seem to quite work. Putting it in between two-wheelers and four-wheelers meant it kind of fell between two stools. Two-wheeler riders who were upgrading to a car wanted something a little bigger and more robust. Entry level car buyers began to look at offerings in the B-segment (Wagon-R, Ritz etc). Buyers felt that the Nano lacked what they were looking for in a car – which is luggage space and slightly more power. It did have it plus points though – great fuel efficiency and excellent cabin space, much better than some more expensive cars like the Alto for instance. The car was also plagued by some initial quality issues, and instances of fires in Nanos, which hampered sales.
Tata launched a refreshed version in 2012 with improvements to the car and a little more power as well (37 bhp, 52 Nm torque). It also made the car more youthful and tried to woo young urban buyers – repositioning it as a kind of cult car or a “cool” car to own. That campaign had mediocre results, with sales numbers not really taking off. Also read: Tata offers limited edition Nano
Nano CNG promises lower running costs than a bike!
But now, it may have the right product especially for urban commuters who want a vehicle with really low running costs and can yet carry four-five people and a bit of luggage. The Tata Nano eMax CNG that will go on sale soon has certain unique propositions to offer. Tata Motors MD, Karl Slym said he would now position the Nano more toward car buyers rather than pitch to two-wheeler buyers.
The car has a 5Kg CNG cylinder hidden under the front seats, which can give the driver a range of up to 180 km on CNG. It gives a fuel efficiency of 36 km per KG on CNG, which makes it absolutely economical at just about 90 paisa per Km! In addition to that it still retains its 15 litre petrol tanking which gives it a range of up to 360 km (at a claimed 24 kmpl), allowing a combined range of over 500 km. And on CNG, the running costs work out to lower than what some motorcycles offer!
The car has been improved as well and now features a better steering that is light and easy to use. It has twin glove boxes, an improved gearshift, integrated music system with four speakers, and a rear parcel tray that hides the 80 litres of luggage space (enough for a couple of laptop bags). The best part is that even with the CNG kit, there is no compromise on usable space in the vehicle. The price of the CNG variant of the Nano is likely to be about Rs. 40,000 more than the petrol variant. Also read: Is the Nano more practical than Alto?
So for buyers looking at a mode of urban transport at absolutely rock bottom costs, this car makes a lot of sense.