Launch of Tata's Nano Diesel Postponed

Slowed demand and the move from Singur have caused a postponement of the diesel Nano launch, as Tata focuses on the gasoline Nano instead

The launch of diesel Nano has been postponed due to demand slowdown and capex crunch owing to the shift from Singur to Sanand. According to auto industry sources, diesel Nano, which was scheduled to rollout sometime in 2009, has now been delayed with the focus on first launching the gasoline version in the first quarter of the next calendar year.

A company spokesman said: "Tata Motors has consistently said that Nano will be launched with a gasoline engine. (Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata) had said (at the Auto Expo) that Nano will be launched with a gasoline engine, and added that we would also work on other engine options, including diesel, CNG, etc. There is no departure from that plan. But the car will be launched with a gasoline engine."

At its Auto Expo unveiling in January this year, Mr Tata had indicated that the company was planning diesel and hybrid versions of Nano. "By and large we've always been a diesel company, so we will have a diesel version that will follow this variant soon after," Mr Tata had said. At that time vendor sources had indicated that diesel Nano would come to the market by July-September 2009.

As late as September, Tata Motors shared variant and feature details with dealers as part of a product familiarisation and training programme to prepare them for Nano launch. It informed dealers that Nano is set to roll out in three petrol variants—standard , deluxe and luxury. And when the diesel version comes, it too would sport the same three variants.

Vendor sources say the financial and time loss due to the shift from Singur has hit the Nano project. The current liquidity crisis and demand slowdown haven't helped either. The diesel delay is the result of this double whammy.

The scheduled launch of gasoline Nano in the last quarter of this calendar is likely to be pushed back to the first quarter of next calendar year, say sources. The diesel version will face a domino delay . The delay in shifting the mother plant, the resultant financial loss and the current market turbulence has pushed back both the petrol and diesel launch date, say sources.

Vendor sources say work on the world's smallest CRDi diesel engine had progressed to an advanced stage. Tata Motors is planning to strap on a diesel engine developed by German powertrain maker FEV on Nano. According to auto industry sources, the small diesel engine will have fuel injection systems developed by Bosch, but the rest of the platform is being developed by Tata Motors and FEV, an independent engine and powertrain systems research, design and development company, based in Aachen, Germany. Sources say the 800cc, turbo-charged , CRDi diesel engine will be twocylinder and crank out at least 30% more mileage compared to 800cc petrol cars.

Second-hand car sales move north

The intense liquidity crunch appears to have come as a blessing in disguise for the pre-owned car business, reports Sutanuka Ghosal & Debjoy Sengupta from Kolkata. With auto-financiers shying away from giving loans for new cars, buyers are now going in for second-hand purchases.

Cars, which are typically one-to-two-years-old , are available at attractive prices. Small cars like Santro, Alto, Zen, WagonR, Indica, Maruti 800 have lately become the choicest picks in the pre-owned car category. Maruti Suzuki's second-hand car business, in fact, has jumped 27% during the first half of the current fiscal.

It has received 22,000 serious queries through its website during the same time. "In October, sales have increased by as much as 22% over the previous corresponding period," Maruti Suzuki chief GM (sales support ) Ravi Bhatia, also in charge of Maruti True Value, told ET. "For the first time, the number of cars Maruti TrueValue sold in September 2008 has been more than the number purchased."