Tata Motors May Let Others Manufacturer, Sell and Brand the Nano


Tata Motors, the company whose claim to fame is selling one of the world’s cheapest and most fuel efficient cars, is considering letting other local India-based manufacturers produce and sell their Nano under their brands.

The company began selling the 56 mpg car last July, and, due to high demand, is in the process of building a manufacturing facility that would produce an additional 350,000 units per year. The plant, located in Sanand in Gujarat, should be up and running by March of 2010.

But in the meantime, Tata Motors is considering allowing smaller manufacturers produce, rebrand and sell the car under license from Tata. The maximum amount of production per year in this fashion would be 10,000 cars. Now that’s an interesting way of selling more cars. I would venture to say that I doubt an American car company would take a similar tack since they use the brand to drive sales.

The Nano has been dubbed the “car for the people” and since July has already sold and delivered nearly 11,000 units, which the company is producing in their Pantnager plant based in Uttarakhand. The car seems to be a good product for the company, who just announced that its sales for all of their vehicles is up 34 percent compared to last year.

While this car is proving to be successful for Tata Motors in India, it may not fly in the U.S. where, traditionally, bigger is better (as of now, there are no plans to sell the Nano in America). To my knowledge, the smallest car for sale in the states is the Smart Fortwo which I must admit, wigs me out. I have suitcases larger than this car.

Just for fun, let’s do a little comparison between the Smart Fortwo and the Nano. The Smart Fortwo’s specs are first, followed by the Nano’s specs.

  • Length: 106.1 inches / 122.0 inches
  • Width: 61.38 inches / 50.05 inches
  • Height: 60.71 / 62.99 inches
  • Weight: 1,808 lbs./ 1,300 lbs
  • Passengers: 2-door and 2 passengers /4-door and five passengers
  • Maximum Speed: 90 mph and 0-60 mph in 12.8 seconds ; 65 mph and 0-45 mph in 14 seconds
  • Fuel Economy: 33 mpg city and 41 mpg highway / 50 mpg city and 60 mpg highway
  • Price: $11,990 / $2,500

So, which one would you choose? Me personally, I’d choose the Nano. It appears that the Nano is a better deal even when you factor in some of the basic features on the Smart Fortwo including power steering, air conditioning and a radio. Oh, and did I mention the Smart ForTwo can be priced up to $20,000 with add-on features? Ouch. My car is twice the size and gets competitive mileage and was only $13,000.

By the way, Smart is planning on producing a Smart Fortwo electric drive with a lithium-ion battery at the end of this year.

Well for now, it looks like the Nano’s pledge to be the car for the people is coming to fruition… Maybe someday soon the states will get their own “car for everyone”.

Joanna Schroeder

Joanna is a writer and consultant specializing in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture issues.