The company plans to sell the world’s cheapest car in countries in Africa, Latin America and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Ratan Tata said at the company’s annual general meeting today. Tata Motors spends on average 30 billion rupees ($641 million) a year on new products and plants, he said, responding to a shareholder question.
Ratan Tata, who urged the company to think “out of the box,” to sell more Nanos, said the company may also offer a diesel version and a bigger three-cylinder petrol engine and consider variants that run on alternative fuels like compressed natural gas. Tata Motors plans to build 20,000 cars a month, Prakash M. Telang, the head of Tata Motor’s India operations, said Aug. 10.
Tata Motors returned to a profit in the fiscal year ended in March after its luxury unit had a pretax profit and sales gained amid economic growth. The company earlier this year opened a dedicated plant in June to build the Nano in Sanand, Gujarat, with capacity to make 250,000 cars a year
Tata Motors was little changed at 1,010.75 rupees in Mumbai today. The shares have gained 30 percent this year.
Ratan today also said the company is conducting detailed investigations in Nanos that caught fire. The company reported Aug. 27 that a third Nano car had caught fire in New Delhi and said it was investigating the incident.
Tata has sold more than 50,000 Nanos since the company began deliveries of the car in July 2009. A 20-member internal team and an independent forensics expert found that one previous fire involved a foreign object igniting while in contact with a hot exhaust system, while the other showed evidence of a ruptured fuel line, Tata said on May 21.
A subsequent program to inspect all Nano cars already sold was carried out to “to allay concerns by owners” and wasn’t a recall, Tata said at the time.
Tata Motors also plans to expand the capacity of its Dharwar plant in Karnataka that makes its Ace light trucks, Ratan said today at the meeting.