India’s Ratan Tata sees brighter future for upmarket Nano

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