Ratan Tata says the desire to make road travel safer for Indian families is what “really motivated” him to produce the Tata Nano. Pegged as the country’s most affordable car when it was launched in 2008, the Nano’s slow death over the next 10 years was attributed to marketing failure, safety concerns and a decline in the demand for cheap cars.
This morning, Ratan Tata, the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, shared an Instagram post to explain why he came up with the idea of producing a cheap and compact car.
“What really motivated me, and sparked a desire to produce such a vehicle, was constantly seeing Indian families on scooters, maybe the child sandwiched between the mother and father, riding to wherever they were going, often on slippery roads,” he wrote.
At first, said Tata, the company was only trying to figure out how to make two-wheelers safer. But the idea evolved into a basic buggy, which then became a car.
“One of the benefits of being in the School of Architecture, it had taught me to doodle when I was free,” wrote Ratan Tata. “At first we were trying to figure out how to make two wheelers safer, the doodles became four wheels, no windows, no doors, just a basic dune buggy.The Nano, was always meant for all our people.”
Ratan Tata has spoken about his motivation to produce the Nano in the past as well. In a 2020 interview with Humans of Bombay, he said that witnessing a family on four on a two-wheeler during heavy rains made him want to do more for people who lacked the means to buy safer alternatives.
“I remember seeing a family of 4 on a motorbike in the heavy Bombay rain — I knew I wanted to do more for these families who were risking their lives for lack of an alternative,” he said.