When Ratan Tata dreamt of manufacturing an affordable car for fellow Indians, it came true alright. Almost everything about the tiny Nano seems perfect: looks are pleasing, enough space for four adults and most importantly almost totally affordable for most people. But like every too-good-to-be-true offer, there is a catch: flames often find an excuse to wreck the car, and its reputation.
Yet another parked Nano car almost caught a fire in Ahmedabad. This surges the total number of Nanos on fire to seven. Blame it on faulty cabling or anything else, but it is high time Tata Motors took the matters in hand and gave some serious thoughts to the burning issue.
Right from the time the Nano was launched, there have been various cases of the Nano catching fire, and time and again Tata Motors has brushed aside the case as a simple wiring defect. The Indian company recently undertook a Tata Nano Superdrive to establish the car’s reliability.
Ahmedabad-based Rakesh Shah bought his Nano on April 21 this year. And this Monday, he was shocked out his wits when he detected smoke soon after he parked his vehicle. The smoke was accompanied by a strange hum from the rear end where the engine is fitted. His colleagues rushed and poured water to prevent further damage. The incident left Shah shell-shocked. “Despite apprehensions, I trusted the product owing to the goodwill of the company. Now that I have been saved, how can I trust this car? Thankfully, my family wasn’t travelling with me,” he said.
Referring to the Monday’s incident, a company spokesperson said, “The incident in Ahmedabad is being investigated and necessary steps will be taken. The company officials could start the car and drive it to our dealership.” He also added that there was no major issue in the car, and that the preliminary checks found that there was only smoke but no fire.
So far, we have had six cases of Nanos catching fire or reported short-circuit and smoke from various cities: Ahmedabad (September 13, 2009), Lucknow (October 20, 2009), New Delhi (October 22, 2009), Mumbai (March 21, 2010), Anand (April 7, 2010) and New Delhi (Aug 27, 2010). Five cars out of these went up completely in flames, while others reported smoke caused by a short circuit after a drive.
The company spokesperson added, “As for the earlier incidents, we have already said a 20-member internal team and an independent forensic expert undertook a comprehensive investigation related to the cause of fire and the conclusion of the investigation is that the Tata Nano is a safe car.”
The company says that it has decided to allay concerns by inspecting all cars with customers. But we don’t get any hints at an immediate recall. Tata Motors, in May, had asked its dealers to contact owners to fix appointments for inspections.
The spokesperson added, “While these incidents have taken place, there are thousands of Nanos (till the end of August over 62,000 cars have been delivered) running normally with some having been taken by their owners on countrywide trips or to altitudes like Khardungla, the world’s highest motorable road.”
Now, it is left to the Indian car buyers to decide whether they would want to risk their lives for the Tata Nano. And as far as Tata Motors is concerned, it can try to redeem its dream by launching a massive recall of all the Nanos sold till date.