The Tata Nano burst onto the world scene four years ago, hailed as the cheapest new car in the world. This was true minimalist motoring. You got a body, an engine and transmission and four seats and not much else.
The concept was to offer four wheeled transport for the emerging middle classes in India as the next step up from the family motorcycle, which had been the ideal transport for a family of five.
However, Tata did not investigate fully the psychological aspect, and Indians rising through the ranks of society did not wish to look as if a Nano was the best they could afford. So the Nano was shunned. Sales plummeted.
Now the product planners at Tata are going to relaunch the Nano as a smart city car, hoping that will reverse the downward slide in sales. But will it? As Daimler-Benz found, their Smart city car has hardly been a runaway success, and other such vehicles as the Norwegian Th!nk seems to be sinking, if not already sunk.
Ambitious plans of bringing Nano to Thailand a couple of years ago seem to have been shelved, and I doubt whether it will last more than another couple of years in its home base India. Then it will be Ta-Ta to Na-No.