'Nano' is the new buzz word... I-phones and I-pods have taken a back seat... people have even stopped talking about politics and the impending elections!! Nano Mania has truly caught on and the Tatas seem to have hit a jackpot!! They have survived all odds including the tantrums of Mamata Di (Read Singur), shifting of the mother plant to Sanand and even the recession!!
It truly is a great step forward for the Indian auto industry... a revolutionary step, which may force all other car manufacturers to change the way they price their cars and rethink their strategy. However, the greatest threat by far is for the Maruti 800, which so far was the market leader in the small car segment. Over 2.5 million Maruti 800's have been sold since its launch in 1984 but the Nano may just end its dream run. Not only is the Tata Nano cheaper priced ( at Rs 1.3 for the base variant compared to Rs 1.8 lakh for the Maruti 800 ) , but it has a lot of other benefits over the 800 too. Most of us would have sat in a 800 some time in our life and would know how cramped its interiors are, but the Nano brings with it the promise of spacious interiors. The Tata Nano has an 8 percent smaller exterior size and a 23 percent larger interior space compared to an 800!! Now this has a another advantage -- that of finding parking space in todays jam-packed roads :-)
A few years earlier, a car buyer with a limited budget had almost no options except the Maruti 800... now he can choose. I've tried to draw up a comparison between the Nano and 800, based on the initial reviews coming in.
The first and the most important factor is of course the price without compromising on the quality. The on road price of a Nano is around Rs 1.3 lakh while a maruti 800 costs around 1.8 lakhs. They have acheived this amazing feat by sticking to just the basics ie: the base variant has has no radio, power windows or air conditioning albeit these are all available in the deluxe versions... the same is with maruti 800. The Deluxe version of Tata Nano costs around rs 1.72 lakhs while Maruti 800 offers the same at Rs 2.1 lakhs.
While still at the price factor, it is interesting to know about some of the methods used by the Tatas to cut costs:-
- The Nano's boot does not open, instead the rear seats can be folded down to access the boot space.
- It has a single windscreen wiper instead of the usual pair.
- Some exterior parts of it are glued together, rather than welded.
- It has no power steering, except in the Cx version.
- It has 3 nuts on the wheels instead of the statutory 4 nuts.
By the looks of it, Maruti 800 would now have to change its pricing strategy to match up with that of Nano, else the evergreen 800 would soon lose its glory.
Here, I think the Nano beats the 800 hands down. The Nano has a snub-nosed look like the Zen Estillo Car and Matiz, which definitely looks more stylish than the outdated looks of an 800. Everywhere you look you see a 800, and its been that way for ages... plus Maruti hasn't changed the appearance of their car much... thus the modern, smooth looks of the Nano offers a refreshing change.
This is THE most important factor for some, the thing which makes a car a car!! The Nano comes with a 625 cc engine while the maruti 800 has a 796 cc engine… if you look at sheer capacity then the Maruti 800 seems a better choice. But, the ultimate measure of the actual performance of a car is its power to weight ratio. The highest power generated by a Nano is 33 BHP while that generated by Maruti 800 is 37 BHP. But due to the great difference in the weight of the two cars – a Nano weighs only 580 Kg compared to Maruti 800’s weight which is 660 Kg—their power to weight ratio works out to be nearly the same ( 0.057 for Tata Nano, and 0.056 for the Maruti). Thus, the feel of the Nano will be nearly the same as a Maruti!!
The Nano’s engine is, however, rear mounted and this comes with its own share of problems. According to experts, the Nano becomes very noisy at high speeds because noise insulation is not possible in a rear mounted engine. Also, as mentioned before, the rear is welded shut and cannot be opened, this means the engine bay which lies under the rear seats also can only be accessed from inside the car. This could be a little problematic.
Mileage and Fuel Efficiency
A Maruti 800 is known to give around 16.1 km/l while the Nano claims to give much more – around 20 km/l, this would lead to a 20% savings in fuel costs which is quite a considerable amount. Tata Nano managed to score around 24 km per litre during its ‘homologation’ tests with ARAI. This makes the Nano the most fuel efficient car in India. Also due to its lower power engine, the Nano’s engine consumes less petrol, and thus leads to greater fuel efficiency.
Some Miscellaneous points
Nano is a real Eco friendly car, which complies with Euro IV standards (while Maruti 800 meets up with only the Euro III norms). A lot of fear has been expressed over the fact that Nano would increase pollution significantly but a study done by a German newspaper indicated that Tata Nano has lower emissions compared to the average Volkswagen, and that developing countries shouldn't be denied the right to motorized mobility whereas industrialized countries should be looking to reduce their emissions and usage of cars.
Although the Nano may seem to be better than the Maruti 800 on almost all counts… but one must not forget that the 800 has proven its mettle as a safe, reliable, sturdy and a no nonsense dependable car. The Nano has a rear mounted engine, the safety of which has not yet been established.
At last the common man’s car has arrived – the Tatas have delivered their promise. A good all rounder at a cheap price. Nano is a great threat, not only for Maruti 800, but also to the two wheeler market and the second hand car market because now, at just Rs 1.3 lakhs, you can be the proud owner of a brand new car. No longer would one have to save for years in order to buy a car…
The Nano complies with all the emission standards and safety norms... in fact it surpasses them... it has a great advantage here that it already complies with Euro IV norms even though it comes into effect in India only in 2010. Thus, Nano is safe -- not only for the people driving it but also for the environment. So much safer than a scooty or a motorbike... so save a little more and buy a Nano!!
The future of safe and cheap travelling has arrived...
The Rating Agency CRISIL, has predicted that Nano's launch would expand the Indian car market by 65% and would push up car sales by 20%. This would be beneficial not only for the Tata's but also for India's economy, which seems to gone into a slump.
The biggest challenge ahead for the Tata's, is to maintain their price offering... but for now they have struck gold. Nearly everybody sees their dreams one step closer now and have a good reason to smile :-)
Auto drivers, Motor cycle drivers... all seem to be saving up for their very own Nano!! Ab Gaadi chalaana seekh lo India... Go get your licence today!
What about you? Would you buy a Nano? I certainly would :-)