Nano changes image to 'reliable', drops 'cheap' tag

With the fate of Tata Motors' Nano, promoted as the 'people's car', hanging in the balance, the company has mounted a massive rescue act. Part of it involves downplaying the "world's cheapest car" tag, which may have done the Nano's image more harm than good.

That at least is the view of the car's advertising agency, Rediffusion Y&R. Tata Motors seems to be in agreement, for it is going along with the new campaign, though it says that playing up the cheap price was never its idea.

Nano sales slumped to a miserable 509 units in November - widely considered to be a peak festival month for sales. This included 68 units bought by its own employees under a company loan scheme.

It was also despite the fact that the car was available off the shelf in at least 10 major cities across the country. This served as a serious wake-up call for the company.

Sales of the Nano had been falling on a month-on-month basis since July this year, with the bottom being reached in November. But they bounced back strongly in December to 5,784 units after Tata Motors doubled warranties and made financing easier.

This was the second best performance this year by the Nano. Though the December figure is much below the July sales figure of 9,000 units, the steep increase comes as a big booster for the company as it prepares to sell the micro car all over the country by March.