Thursday, September 6, 2007

hey! चलो चलो, चलें दूर कहीं प्यार के लीए ये जगह ठीक नही ||

A Nano leap into the future

HE has worked on James Bond’s dream wheels. So it makes perfect sense that Dilip Chhabria should turn his imagination to the car that has captured India’s imagination. Namely: the just unveiled Tata Nano. All through last week, a lot has been written and beamed about the car’s technology and specs.We know it has a The current engine is a 623 cc, two-cylinder, MPFI engine with single balancer shart and four-speed manual transmission.The top speed is around 105 kms per hour.The powertrain is packaged in the rear to increase interior space and improve manoeuvrability.

We also know it has one wiper, a single rear view mirror on the driver’s side and the console in the centre.Now take a look at what DC Design chief Dilip Chhabria has done with the car. For details check out the panel graphic.

Chhabria has strapped on everything from gull wing door, polycarbonate glazing,xenon and LED light clusters,panoramic windscreen,wider wheels and of course a far more powerful engine (the 1400 cc Hayabusa is a moto monster and will turn your cute little car into a vrooming speeding adrenalin-pumping machine.Add to that a new suspension and the ride will be something else altogether. Chhabria’s interiors too are packed with gen-next gizmos.

There’s a cowl to floor PC screen which will display everything from internet,navigation and games,not to mention customised intruments panel which is also beamed on to the screen.In short,the car,which in Chhabria’s imagination is a twoseater not four/five,will be a glitzy,powerful,gadget packed toy,customised to individual tastes and packed with enough goodies to make the Gen-next owner feel right at home.

It’s the 21st century version of the kind of accessorising that became popular with the Maruti 800 (including faux fur on the dashboard,strobe lights at the back and cheesy stickers).Like the M800,everyone expects the Nano to change the face of personalised motoring in India.So why not take a cue from Chhabria and turn your Nano into a super premium,luxury car.After all,from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore, isn’t such a big leap of faith. All it
takes is a bit of imagination and


(The writer is the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan)

He’s been hailed as the world’s foremost management thinker. He revolutionized the way CEOs looked at the market through his bestseller The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. And now, C K Prahalad writes exclusively the Nano launch

Tata Nano represents an important inflection point in the global auto industry and in the evolution and maturation of Indian industry. There is great excitement because Tata Motors has introduced the global auto industry to a whole new consumer segment. This emerging consumer base around the world will be a major engine of global growth. However, this growth will not materialize without a fundamental rethinking of the price-performance (value equation) in the entire industry. I believe Tata Nano will spawn a new debate about manufacturing methods, use of materials, energy efficiency, and transportation.

In India, it lays to rest skeptics who five years ago assumed India cannot compete in manufacturing. Yes, Indian engineers, given the right challenges and leadership can outinnovate and out-engineer others. Seldom does a single product introduction challenge the received wisdom in the industry so radically.

Tata Nano also sheds light on how to leverage emerging markets as innovation hubs. We can constantly complain about constraints. We can also use constraints as levers for breakthrough thinking. I call this process of constrained innovation as working within the Innovation Sandbox. Consider Tata Nano. It starts with clear, self-imposed constraints.

• Price: Rs 100,000 ( a significant change from the lowest cost car in India and elsewhere). A 3X improvement. This constraint is also critical to create a new consumer market—the emerging middle class in India (and India-like markets). Small is beautiful again: Prahalad

• Scalability: This market is large and scale is critical both to meet the price-performance targets and to satisfy the customer base (Think Model T again!)

• Aspirational: The design and features must be such that is aesthetically pleasing and desirable. It must be modern. It must represent smart basics and must not crowd the offering with features that do not represent core value to the customer base.

• Resource efficient: It must be efficient in the use of resources—capital, raw materials and energy.
Now consider these four principal constraints as the boundaries of a sand box. Allow managers to innovate within this sand box and not violate these self-imposed constraints. I am sure that Tata Nano represents thousands of small and significant innovations within these constraints. It is this approach to innovation—embracing constraints and leveraging them for breakthrough innovation—that got us the Rs 100,000 car, in spite of the dramatic increases in the price of raw materials.

I consider Tata Nano as an innovation platform. Of course, the features and functions will evolve rapidly based on experiences of consumers and feedback from the market. Both the company and consumers will learn. The challenge for the company and all associated with it is to rapidly and continuously innovate around the platform as an ecosystem of suppliers, and dealers.

The power of this innovation to shape the global auto industry is forcing a debate already; including in India. What about pollution? Congested roads? Poor infrastructure? I think this is the wrong starting point for debate. We should ask ourself: What if we devoted the same energy and ingenuity to solving the problems of discipline in traffic management? In energy efficiency? These problems may lead us to breakthrough innovations. But I am glad that the debate has started. That is a good sign. This innovation is serious.

But now, let us celebrate. I just want to say: Ratan, what an extraordinary New Year gift to India and the world! To ordinary people! Ratan Tata, Tata Motors, and all the suppliers and dealers deserve our thanks for rekindling the innovative spirit of India.

VolksWagen eyes India with new Bug

In its original version the Volkswagen Beetle achieved Hitler’s dream of world domination long after the demise of the Third Reich. Now, almost 70 years on, the German car maker is to produce a successor to the “people’s car”. Its latest offering, to be unveiled on Monday on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show, is said to be a runabout capable of achieving 100mpg and bearing a basic price tag of £4,000 for sale in the developing world. The western version is to cost about £1,000 more.

The name of the model is secret, but industry rumours suggest it may be known as the City Express, the Lupa or the iCar. However, its probable nickname — like its Beetle predecessor — will almost certainly be the Bug.

It is likely to have some of the same quirks as its famous forerunner, with a rear-mounted engine, luggage space under the bonnet, a radiator and battery in the nose area, and an absence of power steering to save on weight, cost and fuel consumption.

Volkswagen is hoping that its new model will help it crack the emerging markets in China, India and other parts of the developing world where annual sales of budget cars are predicted to reach 10 million by the time the Bug is ready in two years’ time. Markus Arand, a VW spokesman, said: “The car will be about 3.5 metre long with four seats. We’re talking about a small two or three-cylinder engine, which will be at the rear. It should be very flexible to meet the needs of different markets.”

Plans are apparently even afoot to produce a special version of the new Bug to be designed by Apple,
the computer company. Industry sources said that Volkswagen has been in talks with the computer giant to produce a technologically intelligent car that has a combined entertainment and navigation system along with voice recognition controls. The original Volkswagen Beetle was launched in 1938 and stayed in production until 2003, by which time it had achieved sales of more than 21 million.

Megane C-C,or Coupe-Cabriolet at the touch of a button.
Take a look at the Beauty here. OH! yes our good old Mahindra's.

Isn’t the car tempting enough to take a LONgggG Drive on the country side? Okay , those sharp-edged looks may not be to everyone’s liking,but the proportions are striking, right? The butt sticks out,but that arched greenhouse, compact,but glassily airy looks really good.And what’s more,it comes off:folds into the boot that is.Yes,Renault does make some exciting cars and the Megane C-C,or Coupe-Cabriolet,as it is referred to,is one of the early ones in this new genre of cars that manage to be a coupe or a cabriolet at a touch of a button.

That button is located at the centre console,just aft of the gear lever,and a softtouch of the rocker switch makes that glass-and-metal hardtop to fold into two and retract into the boot,along with the side windows, all electrically,and all very dramatically,for bemused bystanders.All in just 22 seconds,converting that close-coupled coupe to a pillarless convertible for four average-sized adults.

Mercedes were the first to come out with these electrically folding roof devices with the SLK.But Peugeot pointed out that actually they had this idea way back in 1935 with the limited edition Eclipse.However, they followed up the SLK with the 206 CC,a decidedly cheaper alternative to the SLK.Renault was the next to follow,with the Megane Coupe Cabriolet,in 2003 and it has been quite a success for the French giant.

The Megane C-C shares the platform of the Megane range of cars consisting of a three-door and a fivedoor hatch,a four-door saloon and a five-door estate. Though with the top up,the curved roof may seem to be at odds with the angular lines of the rest of the car,somehow it works.The unique and attractive feature,though,is the glass-panelled roof to give a light and airy interior. And should this make the cabin too warm in summer,a blind can be pulled over to provide shade.

In coupe form there is some wind noise – but essentially at highway speeds of 130-140kph – mainly from the gap between the frameless front and rear windows,but the proper rear screen does mean good visibility.The rear seats are deep and somewhat tight for adults,though,and when the top is up,headroom at the rear is at a premium.Of course,top down that’s not an issue anymore.

Lower the top and the C-C offers open-air motoring free from buffeting,particularly when the optional wind deflector is in place.But the wind deflector takes away rear seating space,and if you must have passengers at the rear,the wind deflector folds neatly and goes into a box that sits in the boot.But then highway speeds are not recommended.

With the top up,even in torrential rain,there is not the slightest trace of a leak.In that sense the C-C is hugely more practical than conventional soft-top convertibles.There’s not too much body flex – only a small amount of shimmy – but it does not trouble the handling,which is impressively good.The Megane C-C is not thrilling – especially in the 1.9 dCi turbodiesel form that I had – but safe,predictable and reasonably involving.Ride quality is decent and refined at speed, and while there is some kick-back through the steering,the five-speed manual gearbox is precise.Three powerplants are available:1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol units, plus the 1.9 dCi turbodiesel,that I drove.While the 136bhp 2.0 petrol maybe more capable,the 129bhp oil-burner has more flexible performance. More importantly,the engine insulation is so good that even with the roof down,there’s no audible diesel clatter.

One of the toys that ‘my’C-C came with is an adaptive cruise control system.Get to the speed that you want to,tap the switch on the spoke of the steering wheel and you are cruising steadily at that speed.With legal max speed at 130kph I usually set the cruise control for 134.And then when you come up on a car,indicate,move to the faster lane,tap on ‘+’and move up 2kph to 136,another tap and you are on 138,fast enough to overtake.

Come back to your lane,tap on the ‘–’switch twice, voila,you’re back at 134.Surprisingly,the luggage carrying capacity is very good with the roof up,and even when stowed there’s enough space for two flattish suitcases.The glovebox,meanwhile,is lockable for added security.

With 12.7kpl diesel economy,decent dynamics and the option of coupe or cabriolet formats,the C-C is a great idea for those who want to have their creme brulee and eat it to. This is probably the last car that Renault is thinking of bringing to India,but they should do some CBU imports of top-end cars essentially for image-building and for such an exercise,the Megane C-C should be at the top of the list.

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