Tata Nano Does Not Define Innovation

The Tata Nano was touted as the people’s car. There’s enough written about it for anyone interested to pour through for days.  Most of the good things that were said about the car were written prior to its arrival on the scene. Sadly.

It’s been discussed in many circles as a general business failure (so far), but at the same time it has also been touted as a marvel of innovation. This is where I come in.  I beg to differ

I have innovation on my mind anyway. And it’s related to geography. As in, how come there’s so little innovation in India? Let’s not even bother to compare it to the USA, but, my god, they’re not even in the same orbit! I don’t have all the answers but I can think of many reasons why this is the case (that’s a topic for another post).

Back to the Nano. Before I write what I think, here’s a look at the product:

Let me provide some context regarding my opinion that it’s not innovation, first.

I have lately been searching for signs or products of innovation in India and from India.  It is my observation that they are too few and too far between. But, when I ask the question of people in India, many folks point to the Nano – the world’s cheapest car – as a sign of innovation in this country. I beg to differ.

Here’s my logic as to why –

First, it’s a car. Those things have been around for a while.

Okay, so it’s a cheap car. Remember the Volksvagen Beetle?

But, it’s the people’s car. Well, so was the Beetle.

So, is there some particular detail component that is innovative?  Yet to find it.  [By the way, the exterior design of the car was actually done in Italy].

That’s not to say that Ratan Tata’s vision for an affordable people’s car in India – costing a mere 100,000 rupees (approximately $2000), is not highly admirable. It’s just the innovation bit that I fail to comprehend. The other downer for the company is its failure to execute on what was thought to be a vision that could not help but be successful.

But, hey, here’s something novel they did do recently. This HAS to be a first in the world. As a marketing tactic (for Tata’s jewelry line), they created the bejeweled Nano worth some $5 million.  Here it is in all its spectacular bling showcasing the many jewelry styles of India.  That’s rich. And, I must say, it’s quite an (oddball) attention-getter.

Theoretically, yes that’s innovative. Innovative marketing, that is.  It’s not an innovative product since I can’t identify one potential buyer for it.  Practically speaking, it’s one big bling.  Worth a blog post, anyway. 🙂


Posted on January 13, 2012, in india and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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