The $2,200 (1 Lakh) car ....
Ratan Tata is a genius, or atleast someone within Tata Motors is. Of course, most of us have heard about Mr. Tata's dream of building a One Lakh Rupee car. I for one, have been a sceptic. My training in Mechanical Engineering (!!) and common sense lead me to think that if a manufacturing genius of a company such as Toyota could not achieve this, Tata would find it close to impossible ...
And then I read an article on how they were going to create this car. I have always had a healthy respect for Tata Motors' R&D - Their success with India's first completely indigenous car (the Indica) and the fact that they were able to lure Dr. Basargaekar from General Motors ... But what I read had me speechless for a few seconds ... Such a simple idea, so simple that it had to work !
The plan is to create a car that is largely made of high strength composite plastic, thereby reducing the usage of steel. A lot of the joints are to be sealed with industrial adhesive rather than expensive welding. Once, the different components of the car are built, they will be assembled in two ways - The first, conventional one is where Tata Motors assembles the car in their Pune and sells it to their dealer network.
The second one is ingenius - They want to sell kits to any of the thousands of service stations around the country, so that the car can be assembled on request. Customer goes to their local service station and gets a car assembled right there. Just-In-Time, in your face !
This in the words of an expert "Converts the car to a commodity"
Dear readers, I can see you are incredulous and dont think it will work. "Industrial adhesive ! It cant be safe", you say. Its absolutely safe. "I dont want mechanic Raju to build my car !" - Go to the dealer. "Can service stations afford to buy the kit ?" - They dont have to keep in it stock, they will order it as per demand. "Theres no space on Indian roads !" - Thats not Tata's problem, and in fact, if the Indian Government decides to expand the road network, guess who benefits ? Tata Steel and Associated Cement Companies, two Tata family companies ! Helps to be a $18 Billion conglomerate, doesnt it !