Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Mega problem that is the Nano..

A list of head-aches that will probably be caused by the small Nano....

When Tata Motors displayed Nano publicly for the first time, Ratan Tata had said that he " saw middle-class families riding 4 at a time on a scooter (no doubt a Bajaj!) " and he thought that he should make a car that would be affordable to a common family. The 1 Lakh Car!

Commendable vision or just some Marketing Bullshit. We may never know!

But the stark reality is that the pint sized Nano comes with a Mega package of problems. Both for the infrastructure and the environment.

1. The problem of safety:

The Tata Nano lacks airbags and ABS (anti-lock braking system). Putting these two in Nano would have instantly doubled its price. Hence these essential safety measures have been omitted from Nano.
Tata has said that later versions of will have these features. But the price will definitely be doubled and who would want to buy a 2 Lakh Nano car when you have other better cars starting at 3 lakhs?
Also there is the question that when this variant will be coming out!
In India where almost 90000 people are killed/crippled in road accidents every year will it be advisable to flood the roads with a car that lacks airbags and ABS?

2. The problem of Traffic:

Major metros like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi are already facing bad traffic problems everyday. Small cities and towns are not equipped to handle a sudden increase in traffic(By the way neither are the metros!)

In such situation is it advisable to dump a low-cost car on the middle class which looks at a car as a status symbol? The middle class will definitely jump at such an opportunity without thinking about the consequences.

The Tata's wont stop marketing it since it is their business, the middle class won't stop buying it for the sake of owning a car at low price and the government(!) even if it opens its mouth a wad of money will be put in it and the mouth will promptly close!

Although it is said that Tata has conceived a scheme for crowded metros like Mumbai to offer Nano only to those individuals who do not have a vehicle already, I doubt how much this scheme will succeed regarding the implementation of it and also how many people will try to bypass this scheme!

A counter argument doing the rounds is that, once Nano enters the market the sale of two-wheelers will go down. Honestly can you imagine a college-goer going to college in his Nano? What about the parking problems then? In the college as well as on the roads?

Is a boy likely to take his girlfriend for a ride in Nano?
And when Tata has released Nano will the bike companies sit back and let Tata eat their share of market?

3.The problem of pollution

Although Tata Nano is a low emission car, is it emission free?

A simple logic I apply is ,
Normal emission from 1 car = Low emission from 10 cars

Now if people are going to buy Nano like anything wont the 'low emission' of many Nano's eventually be equal to the normal emission of some cars?

With global warming already showing its drastic effects ( you noticed the sudden rise in heat-levels, the untimely rains, the warm winters - all side-effects of global warming!) is it advisable to market the Nano?

When are we going to learn to keep our managerial and business sense aside and care for the earth rather than for ourselves?

Is it so difficult to understand that if the ecological balance stays, we stay, else we are dead?

Tata has promised an electric variant, a variant with compressed-air as fuel. I do hope these ventures succeed and that they be better than the current Nano. I just don't want them to end up as REVA the electric 2 seater car did! A total flop.

4. Enter the rivals:

Market rivals like Bajaj have already started with their attempts at their own 1 lakh car in collaboration with Nissan & Renault and is called Bajaj Auto-Renault-Nissan ULC.
Other giants like Fiat, General Motors have expressed interest at developing a cheap car like the Nano.

Imagine the amount of traffic and pollution when these cars too make their entry into the market!

A solution to this problem would be replacing the existing old taxis (Fiats in Mumbai, Ambassadors in Kolkata, don't know about the other cities!) with Tata Nanos. Of course the Taxi replacements should be offered at a discount.
But if the taxi is a CNG one then I do not see any point in replacing it.
The same thing goes for the autorickshaws.
Infact, a cheaper variant of Nano could be introduced by removing the doors of the Nano to make it look like an auto!

It is upto us people, the common people to think, not only for ourselves but also for the sake of our cities, our nation and our planet whether buying a Nano would be really advisable or not!

Pranjal Wagh

PS: 1. This article although is based on the Tata Nano and the problems that it may cause, we need to use public transport to the max. Maximising use of public transport will reduce the number of cars on the roads directly leading to reduction in traffic (and also pollution!) 2. Any counter argument is always welcome. If I, in any way have erred in the above article please do comment on that!

Creative Commons License
This work by Pranjal A. Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License


  1. I'm sorry... but I need to say something out loud here WRT point #1. How many entry level cars do you know of on Indian roads come equipped with airbags and ABS as standard?

    Look @ the Nano as a safer, affordable replacement for the ubiquitous two-wheeler on which you normally see between three and five persons all managing to ride together.

  2. @Sparx

    My friend, you are absolutely correct about point #1. Indian cars do not have ABS or airbags at entry level. But shoudlnt they(by this I mean all cars not just Nano) have these features for the safety of the passengers?

    In my opinion, Nano can NEVER replace any of the two-wheelers as it will not appeal to the youth. Maximum number of two wheelers are ridden by youngsters and you cannot expect them to settle for Nano instead of a Pulsar/Apache that gives them pleasure of riding at high speed instead of Nano.

  3. I don't know what makes you hate the Nano - either you already have a decent car and don't want lesser mortals to have this convenience or your lack of knowledge.
    Whatever the reason, you are barking up the wrong tree.
    1. Show me a car 4 times as expensive as Nano that has got ABS, forget Airbags.
    2. Nano is all about utility; it is not a status symbol. If there's congestion on roads, its the administration to blame for inadequate infrastructure.
    "The Tata's wont stop marketing it since it is their business" - they haven't even started advertising it, because they don't need to.
    3. Nobody raises a finger when a person drives to office alone in a large mercedes regardless of the traffic/pollution scenario. When the Tatas have empowered the common man with a car he will occasionally use to carry his family for shopping/leisure, all hell breaks loose. You obviously mean that global warming is only the common man's liability.
    I am no supporter of communism, yet this elitist attitude is highly outrageous.
    4. Ratan Tata has clearly stated that Nano won't be allowed to be registered as taxis.

    I fully subscribe to your idea of using public transport (or bikes& bicycles) as much as possible. However, at present other cities do not enjoy such a good public transport system as Mumbai or Delhi.

  4. 1. Cars in India do not have airbags and ABS. Does that mean we should keep on making cars that do not have these features? Or is it because we have too many people in the country so it doesnt really matter how many die?
    2. "blame the administration for inadequate infrastructure". Argue how much you like, the truth is, bringing in the Nano is going to cause a hell lot of problems. Already the situation is bad due to excessive cars, bring in Nano, you will get Hell. Even if the common man wants to go to the mall, the ride will be long and arduous. That is the reality.
    3. I have never supported a single person driving in a merc to office. But since this article was about the Nano I did not mention it. Although I did write that we need to utilise public transport to the max and I was referring to all cars, nano included.
    And I have never said global warming is the common man's liability. But does it mean that if a rich person drives a car and pollutes the air, a common man should do the same? Or should he be more sensible and use public transport. Does the increased demand for petrol due to this 'utility' called Nano (and also the other cars) mean anything?
    4. I wonder why Tata has stated that Nano won't be allowed as Taxis? Will it not reduce the space occupied and pollution caused by the current Taxis?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. ^^^ Identify yourself, dude who is telling me to Shut Up

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Mr. Pranjal A. Wagh, is this Mr. Girish A. Wagh (The man in charge of 'Nano' project) ur bro ?
    Don't criticize his dream so much dude, after all he is ur bro man !
    U must be proud of him, at least, for the sake of ur surname. :-D
    lolz :D


  10. @ Tejas

    No he is not in my relation.
    I am definitely proud of him but not for the sake of his surname. If he would have had any other surname I would have been equally proud.
    Designing and making Nano possible is itself an engineering feat.

    I haven't criticized the way it has been made. I have criticized the reason it has been made.

    PS: Nano is not the dream of Girish Wagh. It is the 'dream' of Mr.Tata and Girish Wagh happens to be his employee so it was his job to design the Nano.

  11. Every technology comes with a Curse & a Cure. Depends which side you sit on.

  12. @Anonymous

    You are right.
    But then right or wrong depends on what your opinion is.

  13. about the airbags and safety: lets forget about the nano for a minute. these safety features are not offered in cheaper cars to make them affordable. when people buy these cars, they know that they are getting it cheap because they lack the comforts and safety of better cars. they choose to buy these cars inspite of knowing this. no one is fooling them into believing otherwise. they choose because they know they cant afford safer cars and they accept it. thats probably because they want to fulfill the basic need of getting from one place to another, together. the nano fulfills this basic need as good as these other cheap cars and at a third of the price! if you look at it this way, nano is more of a competition to these cheap cars and that is definitely a blessing as it pollutes less than them too! hopefully, it will succeed in taking these polluting cars off the road. isn't that good for the environment?

    the environment: u say that the nano will pollute because of its sheer numbers. but if there is no nano, sooner or later the prospective nano buyers will buy other cars or atleast motorcycles which will cause just as much pollution if not more. the solution for the environment is alternative energy resources to do away with the internal combustion engines. researches are on all over the world at rapid pace to make such a breakthrough, but it is still a long way to go. meanwhile, people will not stop buying cars.

    nano and 2 wheelers: i dont think that nano will compete with 2 wheelers that much. nano is a family car as you yourself agree. it will be bought by those who need to travel toghether in groups, families. in my opinion, teenagers will still continue to ride bikes as they have their own thrill. also, don't fget that nothing can weave through traffic like a bike. and with increasing traffic problems, bikes will always be in demand!

    Normal emission from 1 car = Low emission from 10 cars
    i totally agree with the above, but you forget that the 1 car will carry 5 people whereas 10 nanos will carry 50! isn't that same as the principle of public transport?? a bus pollutes much more than a car but it carries 10 times the number of people!!

    traffic congestion: suppose that the nano wasn't being sold. would the current road infrastructure be capable of handling the increase in traffic in a couple of years? absolutely not! nano or no nano, people are buying cars by the dozen and the road infra has to be improved by leaps and bounds anyways. its is not the nano that is the main concern. in fact, it is smaller than the cars it will replace.

    the 'dream': i agree that the "four people on a bike..." could easily be a marketing gimmick, but it is still true that the nano will fulfill this dream. it is something that the common man has always dreamed of. it now is coming true and in my opinion, solving some other problems on the way.

    we should welcome it with open hands and if there are nano(minor) problems, try to solve them for this one big solution called the nano.