The second-generation Tata Nano will shift upmarket to become a "smart city car" as India's largest automaker looks to take the new model to the world.
Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym confirmed the Nano's emphasis would shift from being the 'world's cheapest car' to a vehicle that would be competitive and desirable outside India.
“We still want it to be affordable, but more of a smart city car is what we’d expect of the transformation,” Slym said in a round-table discussion with members of Australia’s automotive media in Pune, India.
The original Nano (above) – dubbed India’s ‘people’s car’ – launched in 2009 from 100,000 rupees ($1750), aiming to offer locals a cheap four-wheeled alternative to the motorcycle. The price has since risen due to increasing material costs.
The Tata Nano features a rear-mounted 28kW/51Nm 624cc two-cylinder petrol engine and a four-speed manual transmission that sends power to the back wheels. It has no power steering, no airbags, one wing mirror, one windscreen wiper, and a fixed rear hatch. Air conditioning and a radio are only available on high-grade variants.
Slym said new engines, overhauled design and enhanced equipment levels would be focuses of the new model.
“Similar to other vehicles there will be a proliferation of variants of Nano – CNG (compressed natural gas), diesel, power steering – there’s a lot of things happening with Nano … certainly as far as the variants and powertrains and specifications are concerned,” he said.
Tipped to launch mid-decade, the second-gen Nano is expected to take design inspiration from the Tata Pixel concept (above) of 2011 and last year’s updated Megapixel concept (top), both of which feature significantly more modern and sophisticated styling than the current production model.
Slym pointed at Daimler’s Smart Fortwo as an example of the next-gen Nano’s potential as a global city car.
“I think we have a very similar opportunity [to the Fortwo], except we’ve got added benefits with the Nano,” he said, highlighting the tiny Tata’s four-seat layout.
The new Nano is part of Tata’s ‘Horizon Next’ program – the company’s strategy for its next-generation passenger vehicles that is intended to elevate the brand from an Indian market niche to a serious player on the global automotive stage.
Tata Motors will officially launch in Australia in October when newly appointed local distributor Fusion Automotive introduces the Xenon ute. Fusion says it has no plans to offer the current-generation Nano in Australia.