In 1957 Hindustan Motors rolled out the first Ambassador car. Sturdy and rounded, the Ambassador still races on Indian roads, ironically serving both as a taxi cab as well as a official transport for government officials. These 50 years of the Ambassador have represented India’s indigenous efforts in the mechanical and automobile space.
Detriot may laugh off, but the second generation of homegrown manufacturing was sparked 3 years ago when Tata Motors announced about its vision to build a 1 lakh rupee (US $2500) family car. Tata Motors, who has also been in talks to buy Ford’s Jaguar and Land Rover units, wanted to mass produce a car that will not only be cost-effective but must satisfy all safety norms and emission standards. The idea received a lot of buzz and speculation. But, Tata’s vision took shape with collaboration from over 100 component makers and 3 years of hard-work. On 10th January 2008, Tata unveiled the Nano – World’s cheapest car.
Tata, which is also India’s largest conglomerate, with revenues equaling 3.2% of India’s GDP, has finally brought automotive transportation to the mainstream Indian population – a democratisation of resources that once separated the rich from the poor. The Nano will go on sale in India later this year with an initial production run of 250,000 a year. Tata says it will offer the Nano in other emerging markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa within four years.
Now that’s a proud moment! While Ratan Tata, the Chairman of the Tata Group, may have thought of the common man, how the “people’s car” fairs in terms of safety, emission, and most importantly, traffic gridlocks in the country, remains to be seen.