Open to granting mfg licence for Nano: Tata

Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Motors, today said he would consider the option of giving out the Nano design to other carmakers for licensed manufacturing, though there are no such plans as of now. If his company couldn't meet the demand on its own, he was willing to consider allowing others for a licence fee, Tata said during an interaction with the Indian media in Geneva at the 78th annual international motor show. Nano, along with other new products from Tata Motors, including the new Indica, is on display at the motor show. Tata's comment on the subject of licensed manufacturing comes at a time when other global manufacturers such as Renault are keen to make low-priced cars to address markets like India. India's largest automobile company, Tata Motors, had unveiled the world's cheapest car, Nano, in January at the Auto Expo in New Delhi. Managing Director Ravi Kant added that consumers could expect innovations in the area of financing for Nano buyers, given the shortage of funds for the two-wheeler finance market in India. He, however, refused to divulge the details. Due to rising defaults in the two-wheeler finance market, large retail bankers such as ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank have in recent months shrunk their exposure by as much as 20 per cent. Rising interest cost has also been a cause of concern for buyers. Tata further said Nano would be made available in developed markets like Europe later. The positioning in Europe would be that of a totally compliant vehicle (emission and safety) at a price that had not been arrived at, he said. Without fixing any deadline, Tata said his company would play a very significant role for vehicles run on alternative fuels such as electric and hybrid versions. This, he said, could be done by buying technology and systems, suggesting that there would not be any attempt at reinventing existing technologies. He also added that the company was pursuing the idea of distributed manufacturing for Nano, where kits could be sold to entrepreneurs for assembling and sale. This, he said, would not be in lieu of existing distribution system, but over and above that. (The correspondent's trip to Geneva was sponsored by Tata Motors.) Tata misses his morning coffee...well, almost! Without intending any pun, Ratan Tata said he could not drink his morning coffee after seeing the reports of a double-digit fall in sales in the US market. "It was so depressing that I almost could not drink my coffee,' he said. The fall in sales in the US market, which is the world's largest car market with nearly 25 per cent share, comes at a time when Indian vehicle makers such as Mahindra & Mahindra have serious plans to enter the US. Starting 2009, M&M's popular utility vehicle, Scorpio, will be sold in the US.