By on October 15, 2012

Tata CEO Ratan Tata has apparently decided to sell the Tata Nano minicar in the United States, even as Tata lacks though proper sales channel.

In an interview with Automotive News, the company namesake said that a redesigned Nano, with features like traction control, a more powerful engine and power steering, could go on sale at a price below $10,000 in three years time.

But a distribution channel is still a giant question mark, with Tata saying “We have to give a lot of thought to how we would distribute the car,” and little else. Tata’s remarks came at the opening of a New Jersey-area Jaguar Land Rover dealership

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46 Comments on “U.S. To Get Redesigned Tata Nano...”


  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    I hope they don’t sell out and go to four lug wheels.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Dear Raran Tata,

    You can avoid failure in the US market by following these 2 simple steps.

    1. Study what Mahindra did for its Pik-Up introduction.
    2. Don’t do that.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy B

      Step 0: Perhaps don’t even try to sell the Nano here?

      Are there not enough other emerging markets that could use this vehicle before trying to crack America? Or send one of their other vehicles here (sedan, pickup, SUVs, etc). The Nano is probably the least well-suited to the US market!

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Heh, by the time the Nano hits we ought to be at QE-XXII and owning one will be only a luxury the ultra rich can afford.

        Anyways,

        I bet they could push the Nano as some sort of quirky city-car provided it gets phenomenal gas mileage.

        And on even less serious note,

        co-brand it with Apple and replace the gauge cluster with an Ipad (leap-frogging Nissan) then market it as a mobile charging device with climate control for Ipads and Iphones instantly making it hipster cool with the added bonus of not having to develop a distribution channel for the car.

      • 0 avatar
        tatracitroensaab

        even better, they can sell it at Jaguar/Landie dealerships ;)

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    Jay Leno’s joke writers eagerly await the introduction of the Nano to our shores. Meanwhile, Malcolm Bricklin fervently hopes to see something replace the Yugo as the source of cheap punchlines.

  • avatar
    2012JKU

    I predict spectacular failure in the US market for the Nano. There are already cheap rides like the Chevy Spark or Nissan Versa just over the $10k price point ($12-13k). You could buy a used car for $10k that would be better as well. If they are going to sell these in the US I would recommend a fixed price structure, skip the dealers and sell them through Wal Mart or Costco. Set up service centers or contract that out to somebody else. If they go the dealer route they will have to start like Hyundai did. Dealers in the ghetto with lots of sub prime financing deals to move metal.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      ” skip the dealers and sell them through Wal Mart or Costco.”

      Even better, add mower deck and snow blower options, then sell through Home Depot and Lowes.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      I like the way you are thinking. Wal Mart has an auto dept. Car Max could do it.

      Trim the channel profit or don’t bother, IMO.

      Still it’s too easy to set up dealers. Guys with big check books line up to be a low value add, low risk, high profit business owner.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      As Tesla is discovering, auto dealers are not about to let someone sell cars thru alternative channels.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        It’s not up to the dealers, it’s up to the lawyers. If your scheme meets the legal reqs, it will work. WalMart likely meets the req’s as well as Autonation.

        Texas used to have req’s for several layers of liquor distributors. At one point, they simply started bumping the dock. I bypass the distributor in between you and I by setting up my cousin as a distributor. I send all my deliveries to his tiny warehouse where the truck actually pulls up to the dock, bumps it for the lawyers, and then drives to your store having all the paper work properly completed for both transactions in the cab. Legally, I sold it to him, and him to you, but he is just a license and accounting necessity that does nothing but collect a tiny percentage and pays taxes all of which I do for him.

        You don’t have to be a dealer like people think of a dealer, only a dealer like the legislation describes a dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Or they could go the Daewoo way when they first got started in the US, go through the internet and take delivery and service through a nationwide auto service outfit.

  • avatar
    Pan

    Nonsense. Just put a “Leaper” on the hood, stained plywood on the dashboard, and naugahyde on the seats, and you won’t be able to tell it from a Jag; although, it may be more reliable.

    • 0 avatar

      I work with leather in my day job, embroidery, because I work with a lot of car and motorcycle clubs and they like leather vests and leather patches. I buy my leather from a company that has been making fine leather apparel for almost 60 years. I recently had a loaded Chrysler 300 Luxury Series and a Jaguar XF for review. The Chrysler had nice leather seating surfaces and leather covered the dash and parts of the doors as well, and the Jaguar similarly used a hide or two of dead cow. The leather in the Jaguar, though, was of a noticeably better quality in both feel and smell. There were a couple of touches with the detail stitching that showed great attention to detail.

      I don’t know if anyone uses “plywood”, but just about every car manufacturer, including the ultra luxury brands like R-R, appliques wood veneers onto metal substrates when using real wood in the interior. A veneer skin bonded to a metal backing is less likely to rattle or work loose than a wood screw into a 1/4″ piece of hardwood.

      As for the Leaper hood ornament, Euro pedestrian safety standards have made those a thing of the past. Besides, on Jaguars current styling a Leaper would look like a booger on the car’s nose. The E-Type never had a Leaper on the hood.

  • avatar

    There first Car they had here in NA was almost a Lawn Mower type of Car with Engine to match, This Company makes a lot of varieties of Tea too, so when they bring this model to North America we could have a “Tea Party” too!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Will the fire extinguisher be standard equipment or part of the option package which includes seat belts, working air bags and disc brakes up front?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Let Motorweek test it out like they did with the Yugo and actually liked it, and you will sell a few of them. After all, some people did buy that POS Yugo.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Mark this down: It’ll never, ever happen. Ever.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    If for some reason, I’m dead wrong and they do bring it over, I would like to suggest a “Show me your Tata(s)!” superbowl ad campaign.

    Guaranteed to sell at least a few hundred units.

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    I guess if Mercedes can start with Studebaker distributorship, there is nothing to stop another luxury brand (Tata) from starting wherever they choose. Now if they would just make it into a wagon with a manual and diesel we would all buy one.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    I don’t ordinarily take much interest in wording and grammatical errors or typos but it sure looks to me like Derek offshored the text prep for his first paragraph.

  • avatar

    It’s unfortunate for Tata that Jaguar and Land Rover are its only immediate gateways into the U.S., because those are prestige brands that would be given the ultimate form of death should a new sub-$10K vehicle find its way into their showrooms…

  • avatar
    2012JKU

    Rental car companies will love this one too. Tata will get sales and exposure, the rental car companies will be able to buy these at a discount for buying in bulk. Just imagine when Enterprise/Hertz/Avis pulls around your sub compact and it is a Nano!

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Under $6500 with a 10 year 100k warranty or it will fail. Why not sell it at a Land Rover jaguar dealer? It can’t be any less reliable then they are? Or how bout buy a jag get a nano for free so you have something to drive when it’s on the lift?

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    $10,000 is simply not cheap enough for a car like this, it will bomb if that’s the entry level price. Doesn’t a Nissan Versa technically start at $10,900?

    For something like this to work, you need it at $7k-$8k, and even then, the only people buying would be idiots.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      You people need to price used cars today..

      40mpg (which may be hard), $10k with automatic, radio with bluetooth and AC will sell, if proper financing is offered to low income people. These people sometimes skip maintenance so it may be a good idea to include it in the price for the term of the loan.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        That’s just it, someone with common sense would see they’re MUCH better off buying a gently used economy car from an established brand like Nissan or Hyundai.

        Have you ever bought a product made in India? They make Chinese manufacturing look top notch. And to say nothing about the very real risk that Tata fails in the US and parts and service are unavailable.

        Plus, it’s butt ugly.

        To make someone willing to take a risk like that on a car, it needs to be “disposable” cheap.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    The Nano didn’t even sell that well in India, relatively speaking.

    By the way, has anyone besides me even seen a Nano in person? It looks quite cheap, and this is in a country where a $10,000 car is quite fancy. Seemed like a car I’d find in Soviet Russia held together with duct tape and baling wire:

    Nano Dealer: okay, Boris, your new Tata Nano will be delivered 3 years from next Tuesday.
    Boris: in the morning or the afternoon?
    Nano Dealer: in the afternoon
    Boris: oh good, I have the plumber coming in the morning.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    The Nano will probably be popular with the Blue Light Shopper crown who are always looking for a bargain. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for; the Yugo turned out to be an absolute P.O.S. Does anybody remember all the problems the Nano had-like catching on fire?

    Personally, I don’t see how any amount of re-engineering will make this thing successful in the U.S. market. I can hardly wait to see the IIHS film footage of a Nano being T-boned by a Suburban.

  • avatar
    chamade

    With the amount of working poor in the US, they might as well try.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    The original Volkswagen Beetle filled a real niche, and I don’t know of any car that really fills that role anymore. Maybe the Nano will be the real new Beetle?

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i cannot imagine the nano ever being able to be modified to meet western standards… that means euro5, ncap5 and some of the usual western econocar creature comforts

    lets not even bring price into this

    i also think the format is wrong… people wont take to a car that looks like a hatch but isnt one

    i think Dacia is a good model… the Sandero and the Duster look like what Western audiences can take to

  • avatar

    How different is Tata Nano from Mitsubishi i (known here as MiEV)? Well, aside from that electric engine thing? Are they they same size or not?

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Just the car for Food Stamp Nation.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Why in the name of Vishnu would you bother to put traction control and power steering on that little crackerbox of a car? They’d be better off making sure the seats are wide enough and strong enough to withstand the girth and tonnage of the ‘average’ American driver.


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