Friday, February 11, 2011

Hope for Electric Tatas Sagging (TTM)

Tata Motors reported their numbers today, the market seems pleased with the results, bumping the stock up 10.5%.
The headline at the Hindustan Times is "Tata Motors Q3 net zooms four-fold". The Wall Street Journal also went with zoom in their headline.

I was reminded of a factoid in a Business Standard opinion piece from earlier this week:
...The recent past offers us more than enough examples to champion this thought. The world's cheapest car, Tata Nano, with all the hype it garnered before its launch, never really took off. Sales of the Nano have been falling for the last four months. Its maker, Tata Motors, sold only 509 Nanos to its dealers in November 2010- a stark contrast to the 9,000 it delivered in July 2010. India's first electric car, Reva, made some initial noise in the market and then vanished without a whimper....
The Nano was introduced in 2009 to much fanfare and an electric version was displayed at the Geneva Motor Show last year. As Wikipedia notes:
If an EV Nano is sold it's expected to be the "world's cheapest electric car",[48][49] use lithium-ion batteries, and have a range of 80 miles (130 km).[50]
That Business Standard story was titled "Cheaper vs. Affordable", see the problem?

Bloomberg had a piece yesterday with this observation:
...More than a year ago I voiced a nagging concern about the Nano based on an insight from a colleague who said that there must be something more than price stopping people from buying cars, because you could get a good used car for less than $2,500. Couple my colleague's insight with overly hyped expectations, and you have a recipe for disappointment....
If Tata can't sell the gasoline version with the tagline "World's Cheapest Car" there's no way they'll be more successful with "World's Cheapest Electric Car".