One thing I couldn’t get over when I visited Tata’s headquarters at Pune last week to see the new Nano baby car, was just how elated the entire team seemed to be to have brought the car to life, and to have this opportunity to show the world.
Most new car teams enjoy this moment, but this group’s wall of elation was so high that I raised it with one or two of them. “I’m more proud of my involvement in this car than I would have been if we’d built a 200mph supercar costing 30 times as much as a Nano,” said one Indian engineer, who seemed to me to speak for them all.
“I have two reasons. First, this product is aimed at people who really need it. Nano customers are not merely replacing something they already own on a whim, as most car owners do, they’re buying their first-ever car, and changing the lives of their families for the better by doing it. Cars are not usually as important as that.
“The other delight of this project has been the engineering challenge. We aren’t replacing a very good car — let’s say a car like the Toyota Corolla — with something that’s slightly better. We’ve started with a near-impossible showroom price target and a very difficult set of parameters, and we’ve been set the task of devising a brand new car. And the amazing thing is, we’ve done it. We‘ve pulled it off. Who wouldn’t be proud of an achievement like that?”