Elsewhen I had written about the story of the Nano - how it was designed and how the team that worked on it went over small details to keep the costs below a lakh (2000 USD as of today) and yet create a world class car.
HOWEVER as a technology innovation it is disaster at a time when we need to encourage people to move to public transport. We have situations where families are planning to buy three or even four Nanos since they are so affordable. This is of course is something that Indians are always craving for. Cars. Cars. And more cars.
Earlier the complaint used to be that we did not have good options in terms of public transport. Now with the Metro and the BRT that excuse is out of the window. Car owners still try to find various excuses even when they could make some of their trips by the Metro. Car owners have convinced themselves that no public transport can be as comfortable as a personal car.So what if we have to wait at traffic jam for twenty minutes?
World over (Paris, NY and San Fransisco) most people use public transport to travel to work. cars are used during weekends, for shopping or when they travel out of the city. In Delhi we use the car for all of the above and everything else. Want to drop your kid to the bus stop? Get in the car? Want some milk? Where are the car keys?
Part of this can be attributed to the publicity and hype over the Nano (and other cars) whereas the Metro still keeps a low profile. Actually very large numbers use the Metro but most of us are not aware of its routes or how we can use it to where we travel. Like most new technologies that we finally get used to this too will take time. Twenty five years of the car revolution (the launch of the Maruti) will be difficult to shake off.
I guess when the initial excitement on this car is over and they have sold their first million it would be 2011. By that time the roads will all be clogged and the Metro would be fully functioning and the BRT would have extended its reach. Maybe at that time car owners will be persuaded to shift to the Metro.
The Nano might still be the symbol of success of Indian design. Just that we may only drive it during weekends.