Here are the excerpts from Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata and Managing Director Ravi Kant's press conference ahead of the formal launch of the Nano on Monday evening at the Parsi Gymkhana in Mumbai.
The Rs 1 lakh price option will be available for only the first 100,000 cars. Wouldn't that be a disappointment for customers?
Tata: I can only say no car manufacturer would commit a price to any volume. We have. It's neither a gimmick nor an ego trip.
When do you think the Nano will break even?
Tata: All I can say at the moment is that the project is highly profitable. After all, I am not doing it for philanthropy.
Now that you have finally launched, what's next?
Tata: We have no further innovation to speak about at this time. I hope my colleagues will continue to innovate new products when I am no longer there.
You drove the car yourself. Can you share your experience?
Tata: I am usually a very difficult critic. But the driving experience was extremely satisfying. You have to keep the price point in mind to get an objective view.
Are you fully satisfied with the car?
Tata: The drive to stretch the envelope has been extremely satisfying. Today's story started some years ago when I observed families riding on two wheelers, the father driving a scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife sitting behind him holding a baby, and I asked myself whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family. A vehicle that could be within everybody's reach, built to meet all safety standards, designed to meet or exceed emission norms and low in pollution and high in fuel efficiency. I am happy we are at the threshold of achieving that dream.
How much demand do you think can be fulfilled?
Tata: I agree that the demand is likely to exceed the supply. Launching the car despite production constraints is an interim plan. We didn't want the customer to wait for the car anymore.
Are you planning to build the car in Pune also?
Kant: The car, originally scheduled to roll out just from one plant, is now rolling out from three. We do not want to complicate matters or have too many tasks at our hands and hence we have decided to build the Nano at just Pantnagar (in Uttarakhand) and Sanand (in Gujarat).
Now that the car is launched, what message would you give to Mamata Banerjee?
Tata: I would only like to say Good Afternoon.
What has been the enquiry level so far for the car?
Kant: We have received 30 million hits on our website (the Tata Nano website) so far.
Mr Tata, you had said some market forces which were planning to derail the project. Can you please name them and what is it that you have to say to them. Also, now that the car has been launched, will you look at retirement?
Tata: I will answer both your questions through one answer: I will answer it at the appropriate time. It has been a nightmare getting this product out.
What will happen to Singur?
Tata: We have not taken a decision regarding Singur yet.
Image: Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Motors interacting with the media before the Nano launch. | Photograph: Sanjay Sawant