Small wonder

First things first.. Does size matter?
In this age of big achievements and bigger ambitions, everyone wants to make it large. And yet, its often said that its the smaller things in life that gives you real pleasure.
Now here comes the best part.
This is small... Smallest, in fact, when it comes to cost and size. Nano, to be exact.

TATA gave us the Nano. The cheapest car in the world, but innovative nonetheless.
Let me satisfy the cynics here itself. This car is NOT a failure. The few incidents of fuel injectors catching fire were in fact the wrongdoings on the part of the customer who meddled with the electric connections. Another case was that of a silk cloth left hanging in the exhaust pipe, later catching fire.

And the land issue in Singur was a promise gone sour, on the part of the administration. TATA had to shift the whole plant part by part to Sanand 2200 km away, perhaps the world's biggest re-location. And its a world-class facility, equipped with 130 state-of-the-art robots and employs almost two and a half thousand people. The production capacity is a mind-numbing 3,50,000 units per year. On full speed, they can produce a single car body in a minute!!! Its commendable that they didn't sue Didi for tarnishing their image in front of their customers. Delayed production spelled doom for Nano's delivery cycle and rumors about quitting the project started doing the rounds.
But the resilient man that he is, Ratan Tata delivered, that too in style.
Despite Osamu Suzuki publicly declaring the project to be absurd, he was among those who gave a standing ovation to Ratan Tata in the 9th Auto Expo, New Delhi. Granted, the Japanese have amazing technical skills. But that doesnt mean they can start shooting their mouths about our desi innovations. Especially when they themselves failed at it. And they have learnt their lessons.. You cant build a better car without becoming a better human-being. Never provoke an Indian!
Anyways, getting back to the car. The Nano(codenamed Project X3) is so much more than meets the eye.
Apart from being the cheapest car, its also the most fuel efficient car in India, giving a healthy mileage of 24kmpl under standard conditions. Its rear-engined, another first for an Indian car. Not only did this help in weight balancing, it also proved very helpful in keeping the car safe in crashes. They did not even have to use collapsible steering columns in crash situations. Having a hollow collapsible compartment in the front, it absorbs most of the impact and deforms without harming the occupants. Also, it generated more interior space, resulting in better headroom and legroom.
A completely redesigned 2-cylinder 624 cc engine was fitted with a balance shaft in order to prevent the horizontal undulations caused by counter-weights. It has the smallest crankshaft in business. To keep the engine compartment cool, they place those highly useful air-scoops behind the rear doors, a la Lamborghini.
The design was a winner. It met all pedestrian safety standards while having a pleasing "innocent lamb" profile and not giving it the looks that might have otherwise come at such a price. And for those who still doubt Nano's capability on Indian roads, it was developed to perform in 30 cm of rainwater clogged streets, climb up inclines of almost 70 degress without running out of breath, or in temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius. And the suspension absorbs all that our so-called roads can throw at it. Even the paint process is full automated, complete with all necessary corrosion measures carried out in larger cars. Hell, they even developed a sound studio in their Sanand plant to check and reduce the vibrations in the engine.
I m not undermining expensive cars. Neither am I over-glorifying Nano. All these facts are stark realities which people conveniently forgot with time. And the only real failure in case of the Nano is bad press as well as the immature mindset we tend to develop with "small" things.
A Rolls Royce Phantom is still the mother of all cars. But it costs about 400 times more than the Nano. You can make 'n' number of inventions if you have the money. What TATA achieved is much more special... Their invention actually saved a lot of money for the average Indian car-buyer who wants to graduate to a no-nonsense means of transport.
TATA could have added an extra wheel to the auto-rickshaw or co-joined two motorbikes together. But they wanted it to be a people's car, not just another kid on the block. She is beautiful, she is agile... She is reliable without being fragile.
Laud the Nano, for she has arrived.
"A promise is a promise"- Sir Ratan Tata.
Indeed...  Hats off to you, sir! :-)

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