Tata Nano fades into oblivion; Sanand plant badges new ID

Tata Nano will be produced only if the manufacturing facility receives a confirmed order from a buyer, says reports. Just one unit of Nano was produced in June and the company sold just three cars in the domestic market.

It started with a tweet. The then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had made an allegation during the time of Gujarat assembly election campaign in 2017 that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet 'Make in India' project had "died", citing a report on a drop in the production of 'Nano' cars at the Sanand plant in Gujarat. He alleged that Rs 33,000 crore of Gujarati taxpayer money was turned into "ashes".

Whether it's because of political pressure or not, the plant, which was once operating at 10 per cent of its installed capacity, has overhauled its production infrastructure and created a flexible assembly line for manufacturing Nano, Tiago and Tigor models spread across 21 variants with 150 vehicle combinations. The company issued a press release on Tuesday, saying the plant is operating at 100 per cent of its capacity and it plans a capacity ramp up for meeting the growing demand.

"The plant has so far rolled out over 4,50,000 units, since inception and is among fastest expanding plants of Tata Motors. The Company is currently mapping out its modular architecture plans and will distribute its Passenger Vehicle manufacturing between Pune and Sanand to meet its product expansion plans," said the company.

Tata Motors has almost stopped the business of its small car Nano. The car will be produced only if the manufacturing facility receives a confirmed order from a buyer, the media reported earlier. Just one unit of Nano was produced in June and the company sold just three cars in the domestic market.

Nano was the brainchild of Ratan Tata, who envisaged giving a safer and more affordable alternative to families riding on two-wheelers. The plant was originally planned to be built at Singur in West Bengal, but the land acquisition led to public agitations and, finally, in a police firing 14 people were killed in Nandigram. In October 2008, Tata pulled out from West Bengal project and relocated it to Gujarat following the invitation from the then chief minister Modi. There were objections against acquiring land in Sanand also. However, the state government managed to secure the land. The Sanand plant started operation in mid-2010, but Nano failed to rise up when passenger vehicle business of Tata's was sinking.

Cyrus Mistry, when he was ousted from the post of chairman of Tata group in 2016, said in his letter to the Tata Sons board members that Nano should be scrapped as the project was consistently unprofitable and at its peak lost Rs 1000 crore.

"As there is no line of sight to profitability for the Nano, any turnaround strategy for the company requires it to shut down," Mistry wrote. "Emotional reasons alone have kept us away from this crucial decision," he added.

The TML press note quoted Mayank Pareek, President, Passenger Vehicle Business Unit, and Tata Motors from Sanand plant, "We, at Tata Motors, have been working aggressively towards our core strategy of Turnaround 2.0, aiming to 'Win sustainably in PVs'. A lean manufacturing process plays a key role in our growth strategy enabling the Sanand plant to contribute around 60 per cent of the overall PV production. The plant has evolved to become a modern, state-of-the-art facility and is playing a vital role meeting aspirations of Tiago and Tigor customers."

Spread over 1100 acres of land, it is also producing engines -- Revotron 1.2L - Petrol (Manual & Auto Transmission), Revotorq 1.05L - Diesel, 624 CC, MPFI - Petrol (Manual & Auto Transmission) and 1.2 NGTC - Petrol (Manual & Auto Transmission). The Sanand plant produced the first electric passenger vehicle Tigor EV for commercial use. Being the youngest plant of Tata Motors, this facility leverages technology with over 190 robots, with high levels of automation to increase productivity across processes. In last two years, the number of employees has increased by 80 per cent at 4,500. As of today, the plant has employed, close to 100 per cent blue collar from Gujarat against the mandated requirement of 85 per cent, said the company.