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Tata Motors to redesign Nano for US market

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Diesel version for domestic market on cards.

Here at last: Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group, and Mr Ravi Kant, Managing Director, Tata Motors, at a press conference of the Nano launch in Mumbai on Monday.
Here at last: Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Group, and Mr Ravi Kant, Managing Director, Tata Motors, at a press conference of the Nano launch in Mumbai on Monday.

Our Bureau

Mumbai, March 23

Tata Motors plans to re-design the Nano for the US and launch it in the biggest car market in the next “three years or so.”

“Given the present indications of buying preferences in the US, we felt that we could further develop the European version for the US,” said Mr Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Motors Ltd.

He said the car would have to undergo some modifications to meet the safety and emission requirements of the US and if the pricing was right, the company would launch it in the US.

Mr Tata and other senior Tata Motors officials addressed the media at the packed Crystal Room at the Taj Hotel, discussing various aspects of the car. Earlier, Mr Tata had a lunch meeting with senior editors from across the country.

With a battery of photographers, both from the Indian and foreign media clicking away, Mr Tata and Mr Ravi Kant, Managing Director, Tata Motors, fielded a range of questions on the car, the challenges the company faced and the road ahead.

Nano Europa in 2011

Nano Europa, the European version of the small car that was showcased earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show, will be launched in Europe in 2011. It would meet all emission and safety requirements, probably with a more powerful engine than that being fitted in cars to be sold in India.

Would the company consider launching the car in China, yet another large market? Mr Tata said China had not been considered because the company had its hands full meeting the requirements of the Indian market.

To a question, Mr Tata said the company had the shell of a plant at Singur in West Bengal and was in the process of moving it. He hoped that Tata Motors would still be present in east India.

(Tata Motors had selected Singur, near Kolkata, as the first location for the plant to make the Nano and had to pull out due to protests spearheaded by the Trinamool Congress chief Ms Mamata Banerjee, over land acquisition and payment of compensation.)

Industry experts believe that Tata Motors would use the upcoming Sanand facility in Gujarat, which is slated to go into production early 2010, as the mother plant and use satellite plants to assemble the Nano. The Singur site could be one such satellite plant.

New variants

He said the company was looking at new variants of the Nano. “We are looking at how to expand the platform that we have for a wider set of range in the next three years.” This would include a diesel version of the car.

On the overall automobile market, Mr Kant said there was a secular upward trend in the market, with vehicle sales increasing month on month since December 2008, but still nowhere near a year ago period. The gap was narrower for passenger cars than for commercial vehicles. However, with huge sums of money being pumped into infrastructure development, the company expected commercial vehicle sales too to pick up.

Related Stories:
Tata Motors showcases 3 models at Geneva show
Fiat watching it with interest

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 24, 2009)
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