Tata on Tata
Posted by g.e. on January 4, 2008
A little surprised that Tata is going to retire soon after his People Car.
From FT’s Faces of Enterprise: Tata’s small car, which the Cornell-trained architect helped design, is slated to appear at the Delhi Auto Show on January 10. It will sell for Rs100,000 ($2,550, €1,730, £1,275) – a rupee figure known in India as one lakh – and bring motoring to a mass market. With a new plant in West Bengal able to make 250,000 a year, the “one-lakh car” will more than double Tata’s car capacity. “Mr Tata encourages us to take big, calculated risks,” says Ravi Kant, Tata Motors’ managing director.
On concerns that his People’s Car will add to carbon footprint: “We’re producing a car that will be no more polluting than a motorcycle,” he says. “As we’re not going to produce millions and millions of them, inundating the country, we will not be adding to the carbon footprint on a per-passenger basis.”“The only reason we didn’t make the one-lakh car a hybrid, for example, is that it could not have been priced at one lakh,” Mr Tata says.Snubs have tended to spur the Tatas to greatness. When Jamsetji Tata, the group’s founder, proposed making steel girders for the Indian railways in 1907, Sir Frederick Upcott, a colonial administrator, famously offered to eat every rail it made. A hundred years later, with Tata snapping up the remains of the British steel industry, westerners scoff at their peril, risking the wrath of a government and business community that sees the group, two-thirds of whose shares are held by charitable trusts, as a role model for corporate India.
While there, don’t miss this beautiful piece on 1lac rupee car and inclusiveness by ET’s Tarun Das:
The criticism that it is not feasible — which was the first reaction — is now put to rest. No one talks about this anymore. The car has been designed, is ready and will be on public display in January at Auto Expo in Delhi. So, it is a physical reality and others are now striving to make small low-cost cars according to a variety of announcements from time to time. This is a positive trend and all to the good. Tatas are clearly first off-the-block but competition is being promised and the consumer will be the beneficiary and the winner.
The other concern expressed relates to the environment. This is the most surprising criticism because no one is urging, for a moment, that car manufacture be stopped or curtailed because of environment concerns. And big cars, which are relatively bigger gas guzzlers, are not being attacked. A new small, low-cost car, which is likely to be relatively more fuel efficient is being questioned and commented upon in connection with the environment. Is there more to this than meets the eye? How can anyone criticise the small car and not the big car or cars as a whole? Additionally, why not question anything on wheels which consumes petrol or diesel?