Monday, August 17, 2009

Tata Nano - an inside view

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The Tata Nano is a rear-engined, four-passenger city car built by Tata Motors, aimed primarily at the Indian market. The car is very fuel efficient, achieving around 26.00km/l on the highway and around 22.00km/l in the city. It was first presented at the 9th annual Auto Expo on January 10, 2008, at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, India. Nano had a commercial launch on March 23, 2009 and a booking period from April 9 to April 25, generating more than 200,000 bookings for the car, with the pricing of Rs 115,000 (rupees).

In early 2008 the news magazine Newsweek identified the Nano as a part of a "new breed of 21st-century cars" that embody "a contrarian philosophy of smaller, lighter, cheaper" and portend a new era in inexpensive personal transportation — and potentially, "global gridlock". The Wall Street Journal confirmed a global trend toward small cars, which includes the Nano

Model versions
At its launch the Nano was available in three trim levels:
1. The basic Tata Nano Std priced at 123,000 Rupees has no extras;
2. The deluxe Tata Nano CX at 151,000 Rupees has air conditioning;
3. the luxury Tata Nano LX at 172,000 Rupees has air conditioning, power windows and central locking
4. The Nano Europa, European version of the Tata Nano has all of the above plus a larger body, bigger 3-cylinder engine, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and meets European crash standards and emission norms.

Technical specifications
According to Tata Group, the Nano is a 33 PS (33 hp/24 kW) car with a 623 cc rear engine and rear wheel drive, and has a fuel economy of 4.55 L/100 km (21.97 km/L, 51.7 mpg (US), 62 mpg (UK)) under city road conditions, and 3.85 L/100 km on highways ( 25.974 km/L, 61.1 mpg (US), 73.3 mpg (UK)). It is the first time a two-cylinder non-opposed petrol engine will be used in a car with a single balance shaft. Tata Motors has reportedly filed 34 patents related to the innovations in the design of Nano, with powertrain accounting for over half of them.

The project head, Girish Wagh has been credited with being one of the brains behind Nano's design. Much has been made of Tata's patents pending for the Nano. Yet during a news conference at the New Delhi Auto Expo, Ratan Tata pointed out none of these is revolutionary or represents earth-shaking technology. He said most relate to rather mundane items such as the two-cylinder engine’s balance shaft, and how the gears were cut in the transmission.
Though the car has been appreciated by many sources, including Reuters due to "the way it has tweaked existing technologies to target an as-yet untapped segment of the market", yet it has been stated by the same sources that Nano is not quite "revolutionary in its technology", just low in price. Moreover, technologies which are expected of the new and yet-to-be-released car include a revolutionary compressed-air fuel system and an eco-friendly electric-version, technologies on which Tata is reportedly already working, though no official incorporation-date for these technologies in the new car has been released.
Rear mounted engine
The use of a rear mounted engine to help maximize interior space makes the Nano similar to the original Fiat 500, another technically innovative "people's car". A concept vehicle similar in styling to the Nano, also with rear engined layout was proposed by the UK Rover Group in the 1990s to succeed the original Mini but was not put into production. The eventual new Mini was much larger and technically conservative. The independent, and now-defunct, MG Rover Group later based their Rover CityRover on the Tata Indica.

References
1. "Learning from Tata's Nano". Businessweek.com. 2008-02-27. http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/feb2008/id20080227_377233_page_2.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-08.
2. "Specifications (from Tata web site)". http://tatanano.inservices.tatamotors.com/tatamotors/index.php?option=com_whynano&task=specification&Itemid=303. Retrieved 2009-03-31.

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