Tata Motors, the country's largest automobile manufacturer, is working on a diesel variant of its Nano entry level small car for the domestic market. At present, the petrol Nano is not faring so well and is witnessing continuous drop in demand among car buyers of the country. As per industry sources, Tata Motors is developing new diesel and CNG versions of its Nano model that would be launched in the Indian auto market sometime by the end of this year or during the first half of 2014. This would make Tata Nano diesel to be the smallest diesel hatchback on sale in the country.
The Nano entry level small car is the country's cheapest offering in Tata Motors' Indian product portfolio. It is well known that Nano was the most ambitious and close to heart project of Ratan Tata, Tata Motors' ex-Chairman. Ratan Tata pulled off the biggest undertaking of his tenure as the Head of Tata Motors, by introducing Nano as the world's cheapest car in the year 2008. The launch of Nano helped Tata Motors in gaining a worldwide recognition and the small car was expected to set new benchmarks in the Indian auto market. The company managed to record decent sales of Nano in the country at the beginning, but gradually the sales numbers fell.
Tata Motors is hoping that its upcoming Nano diesel is able to draw domestic buyers to its retail outlets. At present, diesel cars are recording strong sales in India and have even managed to outsmart their petrol counterparts in terms of sales during the recent months. The Nano diesel is expected to carve a new chapter for Tata Motors and help it in regaining its lost ground in the small car segment.
The company has pitched its Nano against Maruti Suzuki Alto and Chevrolet Spark models in the entry level hatchback segment of the Indian auto market. At present, both Alto and Spark are available only in petrol powered options, which would hand the first mover advantage to Nano diesel upon its arrival in the country. Despite being less expensive than its competition, the Tata Nano has failed to set sales charts on fire owing to several reasons. First one being the company's marketing strategy that promoted Nano as the cheapest car available, something which backfired literally. Further, Nano's boxy looks and high NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) levels did little to its favour.
The test mules of Tata Nano diesel have been caught on Indian streets several times in Pune and Bangalore. Under its hood, the Nano diesel is expected to be powered by a 3-cylinder, turbocharged 800 cc oil burner that could produce a peak power output around 49 bhp. As per industry sources, the company would be outsourcing this frugal diesel motor initially and might develop its own in the future, depending upon the public response and sales. It is going to be interesting to see how Indian car buyers accept the yet-to-be launched Nano diesel and will this car be able to change fortunes of Tata Motors in the Indian auto market.