Nano to drive into US in three years: Ratan Tata

January 5th, 2010 - 7:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) Tata Motors will launch its Nano small car in the US in three years after considerably modifying it, group chairman Ratan Tata said Tuesday.
“We recognise there is a market for the Nano in developing countries. We also recognise there is a market for a low-priced car in the developed world,” Tata said after unveiling four low, mid- and high-end vehicles on the opening day of Auto Expo 2010.

“For the US, the car would need a larger engine and additional crash tests. I can’t indicate how long this will take but it could be three years,” he said, adding: “We are also attempting to bring out an electric Nano.”

During the half-hour press conference, Tata touched on issues ranging from the future price of Nano, plans for Jaguar-Land Rover (JLR), to whether his company intended to drive three-wheelers out of the market with the launch of its Magic Iris “people mover”.

He also dwelt on the future of the land Tata Motors owns in Singur in West Bengal — where the Nano was originally planned to be produced — to his own retirement plans, though he was a bit cagey on the last issue.

“We have committed to delivering the first 100,000 Nanos at the old price (Rs.100,000). You must remember commodity prices are going up. It is a question of whether it is in free form or it is moderate. We’ll have to see all this before commenting,” Tata said.

Asked when he thought the loss-making JLR brand that the company acquired 18 months ago would be turned around, he replied: “No one makes acquisitions on a short-term basis. Ours is not a short-term investment. It’s not something to add to our egos.”

Tata said acquisitions were made if targeted companies were strategically important and value was added to one’s product, and added: “The integration of the two companies will give them an opportunity to make their destinies. We want to rekindle Jaguar’s roots.”

He also guffawed when asked whether his company intended to drive three-wheelers out of the market with the Magic Iris, which, for all practical purposes, is a three-wheeler on four wheels.

“Do I want to eliminate something that belongs to the Jurrasic age? We are only providing a safe people-mover on four wheels,” he maintained.

On the Singur land, Tata said there had been no discussions on this with the West Bengal government ever since an agitation by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, now the railway minister, had forced the company to relocate its Nano plant to Gujarat.

“We still hold the lease to the land. I am not aware of any letter written by the West Bengal government. There have been no discussions. We have made an investment but we haven’t decided what to do (with the land),” he said.

“At the same time, we won’t stand in the way of the land’s usage (by anyone else) as long as we are compensated,” Tata said, adding: “Unless there is harmony, there is no going back.”

Tata, however, seemed a tad uncomfortable when asked about his retirement plans, which he had first spoken about at the unveiling of the Nano.

“I had indicated at that time that it would be a good time to step down. You can read into that what you want. Still, as to a deadline, it is my responsibility to have a successor and that will take place,” he explained.

Apart from the four-seater Magic Iris, the company Tuesday unveiled the eight-seater Tata Venture hatchback and the 4×4, seven-seater crossover Tata Aria, as also the all-new Jaguar XJ.

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