Indian Autos blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Lakh wha???

Really??..seriously?? it so??...Impossible...are you kidding me?....those were some responses of the Indian people to the OLRC(One lakh rupee car) when Tata Motors proposed the plan of making it. Is it going to be an auto rickshaw with four wheels? is it a golf cart with doors?? is it going to even look like a car?.. Those were some other interesting questions posed. Everything about this small car was kept under wraps during its probation period and it was like a top secret military mission which everyone wanted to know about but couldn't. Officials from Tata Motors refused to talk much about it until a few months back when a magazine released some sketches of its shape and mentioned briefly about its technical specification. Its shape resembles the Chevrolet Matiz. A rear engined 660cc 2-cylinder petrol and 700cc diesel are the engine options and the low-end model would have a CVT. The higher end model would have A.C, power steering and a manual transmission. Its wheels are borrowed from the mini Truck (Ace) made by the same manufacturer. Some other reliable sources say that the car is made mostly of high strength plastics and a substantial amount of cost cutting has been planned when the car is put into production next year. They also say that the storage space in the front (remember that its a rear-engined vehicle) doesn't seem to be all that large. Several doubts are raised which can only be clarified after the car's launch next year.

Fill a bag of sand and put a Tata logo on it. It'll attract buyers! The Tata logo signifies trust and the brand has captured the hearts of millions across the globe. For the past decade and a half or so, Tata have been giving the Indian people a lot of reliable and affordable cars. The One Lakh Rupee segment belongs to up market bikes and is an inhabited and dangerous territory for carmakers. But Tata Motors aren't reluctant to explore it. The margin for the manufacturer is going to be almost close to nothing and producing a car for this low a price is going to be one daunting task. When Mr.Tata was asked about the response to the reactions of the public and the press, he simply commented saying that many people ate their words when the Indica was launched and the same is all set to happen when the small car is unveiled next year.

What can we expect? I'm not sure, but one cant expect ABS, ESP, EBD, etc. Although the Indica and the Indigo sedan initially had a lot of issues, most of it seems to have been fixed after a few updates and refreshments over the years. The quality factor is what puts the cars down. Gaps, low quality plastics and poor finish are the regulars. But its understandable to expect a few short falls in a low priced product. Expect most of the Tata Motors genes to be found on the small car as well. Fiat's 500 model similar to the OLRC was a runaway hit in some parts of Europe when it was launched earlier this year and it was completely unanticipated. Although it costs considerable more than the One lakh car, we can still contrast both as they belong to the same segment. People instantly fell in love with its shape and styling and the ones driving these became some kind of celebrities. As of the end of July 2007, Fiat's boss Sergio Marchionne announced the Fiat 500 had received 57000 orders just four weeks after the official launch. Its becoming something like a fashion accessory and everyone wants one. Will history repeat itself when the Tata's small car is released? Only time can tell.

We all love the privacy that ours cars give us. Buying a car is like a dream come true for most of us Indians. We love boasting about our cars and in the due course of time after buying one, it becomes somewhat an integral part of our family. We have emotions and sentiments for our cars and these machines get pampered and caressed like a never aging puppy. It takes us places and more importantly it takes along our loved ones. Imagine if the same sensation and feeling could be experienced by millions of other less fortunate Indians who cant afford to buy a new car today. That’s what is so good about this one lakh rupee car and not its suspension or the power it produces. Its rightly called the "people's car".