Nitol looking to assemble Tata Nano locally
Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan
Bangladesh could be the next assembling home of the world’s cheapest car Tata Nano, if a negotiation among the government, the car’s Indian manufacturer and their local representative sees the daylight.
Nitol, the local sales agent of Nano’s giant parent concern Tata Motors, said Sunday that the company was aiming to assemble the jelly bean-shaped car from its own premises after its grand unveiling in Bangladesh at the recently-concluded India Trade Fair.
“The move is aimed at keeping the prices of the acclaimed tiny car at its expected level as maintaining that highly anticipated low price appears hardly feasible in Bangladesh after counting the high import duties and other expenses”, a high official of Nitol Motors told the FE recently.
“Currently, we are waiting for the final go-ahead from the government for setting up our own assembling plant on the outskirts of Dhaka and if everything goes well, we would be able to market the home-made Tata Nano by the end of this year”, he added.
Amid much media frenzy, Tata Nano was launched in March last year at the Pragati Maidan of New Delhi, the capital of India, with a starting price of Rs 100,000 equivalent to US$2,160, placing it in the Guinness Book of Records as the cheapest car in the world to date.
The news provides a ray of hope for a section of Bangladesh’s rising middle class people, for whom the luxury of owning a personal car still remains a distant dream.
However, much of this initial frenzy was about to die down, when the Nitol officials informed the prospective customers that they might not be able to sell the Tata Nano LX on display at the India Trade Fair at a price lower than Tk. 600 thousand in the local market after taking into account the high import taxes and the minimum profit margin.
“But if we can assemble the same car locally at our own plant, the price could come down to around Tk. 300 to 350 thousand, which can make it the cheapest car available in the Bangladeshi market by far”, Tata Nitol’s General Manager for International Trade Division Ayatollah said
Nitol officials pointed out that the car could possibly be a good bargain to the young jobholders and professionals, university students and even the female homemakers.
From its existing automobile plant in Jessore, Nitol is already assembling a number of other types of Tata commercial vehicles including trucks for the local market.
“We are yet to do a market feasibility study on the demand for such vehicles in Bangladesh; however if we find that there is a potential demand of 1000 units per year for this car in the local market, for instance, we may opt for locally assembling this vehicle”, Ayatollah said.
Industry insiders observe that the car could be a potential competitor to its Indian counterpart Maruti Suzuki and other low-budget automobile varieties available in the market, but they also expressed skepticism about the potential durability of such low-cost four-wheelers.
“Despite availability of cheaper options in the local market, rather pricey Toyota is the most sought-after brand in Bangladesh”, said an industry insider. “So it’s very unlikely that the customers here would risk quality for cheaper prices while buying their dream car”.