Girish Wagh, senior VP (Programme Planning & Project Management), Tata Motors, speaks to Sumantra B Barooah on the newest avatar of the Nano – the GenX model which was launched today.
What are the key goals you set while developing the GenX Nano?
After the launch of the Nano, we did the first upgrade in 2012 as a MY12. After that for some time, we had a good increase in the sales volumes but that was not sustained. Therefore, we went back to the customer to understand what's happening. The team spoke to almost 1,200 customers. What came out was that all those who had purchased the Nano were delighted with the car. Over 85-90 percent of them were satisfied with the car. We also conducted a survey with around 1,500-odd compact hatchback customers and a few potential buyers too. What came out from all this was that there were certain needs that customers had which we could classify into emotional, functional, and a few technical.
Emotionally, what was happening was that while the Nano was a good point-to-point mobility solution, customers were looking for a car which is a statement of their social status.
Also read: Tata Motors' GenX Nano launched at Rs 1.99 lakh
Functionally, there were specific requirements like power steering and openable hatch. While this was not a stated need, people were increasingly being troubled while driving on crowded roads. They wanted some solution which will reduce their pain and fatigue, which led us to think about the AMT. The whole plan was made in a telescopic manner, if I may say so. Everything was not going to be done on day one. But we started working on everything. Power steering was a key requirement. That's why we launched it as soon as it was ready, as the Twist.
There are many improvements (in the GenX Nano) like improved retained newness and perceived quality which the customer is going to perceive after sustained usage. We believe the car is something that is very aspirational. The GenX Nano is better on many attributes than other cars in its segment.
You are working on the turbocharged version of the Nano. Is that model to capture a different profile of buyers, the young India, and build the Nano brand?
The turbocharged version is aimed at giving a more sporty inclination to the car. It is not necessary that in this segment all those who want to buy it as their first or a second car would want this version. But passionate car lovers would certainly love to have it. You are right. This is something that we are exploring whether we can do. The purpose would be more to see what positive rub-off it is going to have on the Nano brand.
The engine calibration has been changed for the AMT model. Is there any trade-off for it?
Not so much about power output but more about what power is made available at the wheels. The focus was to give a good drivability feel. You can always get good fuel efficiency in the certification by changing gears very fast. But we focused on getting very good drivability because that is something you should enjoy. There will be a balance between drivability and fuel efficiency. Driving in the right gear for a longer period of time means the fuel efficiency is in fact better in actual driving conditions. That's what we have focused on. Also, we have given the multi-drive mode. This feature has been liked a lot in the Zest and the Bolt. The GenX Nano, therefore, clearly fits well into our Horizonext philosophy and the basic framework and rules which we have led for ourselves as part of Horizonext.
Will it be fair to assume that AMT as a technology will percolate into the entire portfolio of Tata cars? Yes, as I said earlier, that there are certain technologies that we are working on which will go across the products. Whether it is EPAS or AMT, we clearly believe that below a particular price point, it makes a lot of sense for Indian customers. There are few other technologies also. Yes, AMT will also go into some of the other products.
Is e-clutch another cost efficient technology?
We are exploring a lot of technologies which can make sense for our market, usage and our customers.
How have you made the Nano a safer car?
First of all, the EPAS itself with the 98 percent active return beyond 10kph is kind of an active safety feature. We have strengthened the shell by adding some members, strengthening some members to increase the energy absorbing capability in case of an unfortunate accident. This has also, of course, led to the torsional stiffness of the car which therefore improves its NVH performance. We placed the radiator in the front. In addition to that, there is an additional crumple zone. With all this, we have added strength and safety to the shell. We have added intrusion beams in all the four doors.