India’s Ratan Tata sees brighter future for upmarket Nano

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

NEW DELHI, November 30, 2013 (AFP) – India’s struggling Tata Nano, billed as the world’s cheapest car, could still have a strong future with a more upmarket image, says Tata group tycoon Ratan Tata, as the company looks to give the hatchback a new start.

Tata told US business channel CNBC late Friday he still had high hopes for the tiny Nano in its home market and abroad.

“A re-launched Nano with some of the differences that we’re trying to incorporate, yes I do” believe it has good prospects, Tata said.

“We are going to relaunch the car not as the cheapest car” but with a different “image”, Tata said, without giving a timeframe.

When Tata Motors — part of India’s giant Tata group — launched the Nano in 2009, analysts said it would revolutionise how millions in India travelled. But after poor sales, it become clear the car’s unique selling point — its price — had backfired.

Tata said the branding of the jelly-bean shaped vehicle as the world’s cheapest car was a mistake.

“It became termed as a cheapest car by the public and, I am sorry to say, by ourselves,” Tata said, calling the branding “unfortunate”.

Rather than embracing the Nano, the poorer but still status-conscious customer base the car was targeting