Car sales in India during January usually show a spike up as more car buyers enter the market after deferring their purchases from December of the previous year to January of the new year. While that’s the general trend, the Tata Nano’s bucked the trend, and in a not so nice way, what with sales of the car hitting 1,503 units, the second lowest ever for the budget hatchback. The last time that the Nano really struggled with sales was in September 2011, when the car’s sales fell to an abysmal 1,202 units. Tata Motors needs new variants for the Nano and needs them quick.
It’s been over a year since Tata Motors first showcased the Nano CNG at the 2012 Indian Auto Expo and the car is yet to be launched. The delay in the launch of the CNG variant of the Nano is hurting the car at the hustings at the CNG powered Nano is an interesting proposition for buyers in the bigger cities of India where the availability of CNG dispensing stations is not an issue. The Nano CNG can also be driven in petrol mode as and when the situation dictates. So, the Nano CNG is essentially a dual fuel car that seamlessly can do both city and highway runs.
The other big launch for the Nano will be diesel variant of the car. The Nano Diesel is expected to arrive by the end of this year. The Nano Diesel will be powered by an 800cc twin cylinder turbo diesel engine that is expected to deliver a whopping 35 Kmpl. The high fuel economy will be the biggest selling point of the Nano Diesel. However, the impending hike in diesel prices over the next one year is a major danger that the Nano Diesel will have to contend with. So, Tata will have to price the Nano Diesel very competitively in order to promote the car as a viable alternate to other entry level small cars sold in the country.
Tata Motors is also said to be working on upgraded versions of the Nano. One such version is expected to feature an 800cc petrol engine. Apart from the more powerful petrol engine, the upgraded version of the Nano is expected to come with a bunch of new features and creature comforts. The 800cc Tata Nano would be priced and positioned above the current 623cc petrol engined model as an upmarket hatchback. Moving up the value chain will be quite a challenge for the Nano given the low cost premise around which the car has always revolved.