The brainchild of the boss man himself, Mr Ratan Tata’s most ambitious project ever amongst all that he has ever ventured into, was to give India the car it deserved. The vision to bring modern and safe mobility to the masses. Pulling the middle-class Indians from scooters and putting them into a safe 4-door proper car. A modern-age, 21st-century “people’s car” which was expected to surge a revolution of the same magnitude as the Model-T did for Ford. Lo and Behold; the Tata Nano.

The first buyer of Tata Nano
The first buyer of Tata Nano

Read: Tata Nano Sold A Total Of 1 Car In 2019

The car was named Tata Nano which debuted at the 2008 Auto Expo in India, a name that we are so much familiar with now for all the conscience reasons. The fundamental goal was to provide the diverse citizens of our country with a car for the masses, To make a “1 Lakh Rupee Car” which the masses could afford.

Did You Know? Popular comedian, actor, late-night show host and car collector; Jay Leno has a custom Tata Nano as a part of his car collection.

But today the traces of that ‘dream project’ is nowhere to be found since Tata Motors pulled the plug on the Nano during the 2018-19 fiscal year as sales started to plummet. Here’s what went wrong with the Tata Nano.

Strategic shortcomings

Sanand Plant of Tata Nano
Sanand Plant of Tata Nano

Tata Nano during its debut was able to garner a tremendous amount of accolades as this was simply unheard before. It was considered to be a great invention during the time. But unfortunately enough, this invention couldn’t become a ‘game-changer’.

  • The reason behind it was the lack of a correct strategy for a product like this. Firstly Tata motors couldn’t reach out to its target market since their dealer network was situated only in the urban areas while the target market was situated in towns and villages. Their target market wasn’t familiar with the car-buying experience and the company was not able to bridge that gap.
  • This situation was further worsened when the project faced an eighteen-month delay as the production unit had to be shifted from Singur, West Bengal to Sanand, Gujrat.
  • The Nano was marketed as the “One lakh Rupee” car but after some time Tata was not able to keep up with that price and the on-road price for a base variant Nano started to come around 2.59 lakhs which defeated their marketing campaign for the car.

Customer’s perception

Unfortunately, the word “Cheap” or “Lakhtakiya” (worth a lakh) didn’t go down well with potential buyers. Tata Motors while developing the Nano thought that they have hit the bullseye when it came to comprehending what the Indian Market needs but as it turns out, they needed to be more ambiguous while interpreting the consumer needs.

  • Tata Nano right from the beginning was a product that Tata Motors thought is something that the customers need and was never the outcome of an assessment program of what the customers possibly needed. This approach didn’t bode well for the sales of Nano.
  • Tata Nano was marketed as the “cheapest car in the world”. Unfortunately, this strategy didn’t work in favour of the Nano as it immediately gained a reputation of a “cheap car” amongst the consumers who don’t want to get associated with a low-end car especially in the urban sector.
  • To avoid being associated with a ‘cheap car’, the Indian consumers were witnessed going for a used car from a segment above than buying a Nano.

Shoddy build-quality (or corporate espionage)?

Tata Nano
Tata Nano Global NCAP Test

The Tata Nano had impressive features like a small fuel-efficient engine, enough room to seat four adults abreast with ease, high ground-clearance, and being sturdy and robust enough for long journeys.

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However, the car faced a lot of technical issues in its initial production run which further contributed to its failure.

  • During the first two years, several Tata Nano cars were reported to catch on fire due to faulty wiring.
  • The Nano had poor ride comfort and stability issues due to the lightweight body.
  • Tata focused on making the car as affordable as possible, so much so that it influenced the use of cheap and inadequate materials which resulted in a very poor built quality.

The Tata Nano failed to be the innovative car it was aspired to be and is still considered one of the biggest tragedies in the history of the Indian Automotive Industry.

Read more about the Global NCAP assessment of the Tata Nano here.


  1. Tata Nano was a proud & the best Indian middle class family & city drive car. The management should have made necessary modification on the cause for this failure & continued the model with new marketing strategies … 🌹🇮🇳👌

    • Problem is not with nano car. It’s the mindset of Indians that defeated the car. We Indians will buy a 10 year old alto for 2L even though it has nothing better to offer. The nano in our house is 11 years old and still going strong.

  2. The point mentioned in the article that Tata Nano had cheap material is absolutely false. It has had the most innovatively designed parts with quality. It will any day put to shame the basic Kwid versions interiors to shame. It’s AC is better than a Maruti Alto. I have been using a nano for past 6 years without any issues.

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