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‘Nano is a smart motoring solution’

MURALI GOPALAN | Updated on January 23, 2018

Get set go: Mayank Pareek, President, PVBU, at the launch of the new GenX Nano in Mumbai. - PAUL NORONHA

Mayank Pareek is confident GenX will do the trick

It was an interesting coincidence that Renault unveiled its compact car for India barely 24 hours after Tata Motors launched the GenX Nano.

It was the Nano, or more specifically its price, that had first caught the interest of Carlos Ghosn nearly a decade earlier. The CEO of Renault was so impressed at what Ratan Tata had achieved that he wasted little time in kicking off a similar low-cost drive, that ended with the Kwid at a price range of ₹ 3-4 lakh. The Nano had everyone transfixed at the 2008 Delhi Auto Expo when Ratan Tata first showcased it and the crowds went berserk hearing its (ex-factory) price tag of ₹ 1-lakh for the base version. Nearly eight years later, the GenX Nano was launched at the Oberoi in Mumbai with the emphasis clearly on youth.

Market driven

“The market is driven by different types of buyers who want more and more for less and less. This is where the GenX Nano is an attractive option as the best entry-level compact,” says a confident Mayank Pareek, President of the Passenger Vehicle Business Unit.

The price, of course, continues to be the biggest draw which ranges from ₹ 2-3 lakh. The new bait is the AMT (automated manual transmission) option which is welcome news for drivers who constantly have to cope with congested traffic. Incidentally, even in its earlier avatar, the Nano was first conceived with an automatic transmission as part of the endeavour to draw two-wheeler buyers.

The engineering team has pulled out all stops to ensure that the GenX Nano is devoid of glitches. For instance, people had to fuel up their car twice a week earlier but this will hopefully stop with the larger fuel tank and better mileage.

What’s in a name

The car now comes with a host of new colours as well as changes in its interiors/exteriors. Yet, will all this be enough to woo buyers back to the Nano stable or would they still be wary of being associated with the ‘cheap’ brand? “Perhaps, Tatas should have dropped the Nano name altogether while launching this car,” says a top auto executive who does not wish to be named.

Pareek clearly does not agree with this view. He maintains that there is a huge part of India which is still lying untapped simply because it has been ignored all these years. It is this base which will be an important growth lever for the GenX Nano.

People here have the same aspiration levels as their more urban counterparts and can also afford to buy a car. It was, in fact, these Tier 2/3 centres which played a big role in buying cars during the slowdown of 2009.

It is also not as if a brand is permanently relegated to the sidelines after being rejected initially. A case in point is Fiat which struggled to cope with deliveries of the Uno way back in the late-1990s. Livid customers cancelled their bookings but were back some years later when Fiat launched the Palio. Likewise, it is really up to Tata Motors now to create the right customer connect with the GenX Nano.

Smarter options

As a Maruti veteran, Pareek is only too aware of the low penetration levels of cars in India at 19 per thousand people. “We see a good opportunity in the entry-level segment with this path-breaking product,” he says. Statistics on the Nano also fuel his optimism with 47 per cent being first-time buyers while 40 per cent opt for it as the second car. The exchange scheme for the GenX Nano had 11,000 customers already evaluating it even before the price was announced.

“The Nano is slowly emerging as a cult product in India and is a smart motoring solution,” says Pareek. He will, doubtless, be keeping an even more watchful eye on the automatic option which has the potential to do big numbers. This has already been borne out in the Celerio and Alto where automatics take up a large chunk of sales.

The coming months will see Pareek getting his sales force going flat out to put this car back on track. He would rather that they steer clear of labelling it as the most affordable compact hatchback and focus on its other features instead. This is the only way the GenX Nano can hope to stage a comeback.

Published on May 21, 2015

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