New Products

Nano – the latest sensation from Tata Motors!!

Posted on January 14, 2008. Filed under: New Products |

Tata Motors’ “Nano” the latest sensation in the recent Auto Expo has made everybody turn and have a closer look at the car. Nano, as we all know is the cheapest car in the world and it satisfies all the latest safety and emission norms. All for less than USD3000. Too good to be true, but its true!! It is truly a great achievement for Tata Motors and makes us even more proud because the complete design and engineering is done by Indians, led by 37 year old Mr Girish Wagh and his 500 member technical team. To read more about him and the team which created Nano, click this link.

The car has been beautifully designed and very pleasant on the eyes. It closely resembles the new version of Zen Estilo but the comparison stops there. There have been radical changes to the way a car has been designed. The engine is on the rear side and the boot space is at the front. For your information, Tata Nano has a boot space to accomodate only one suitcase!! All possible measures have been adapted to cut the cost to the minimum. The car is 8% smaller than Maruti 800 but Tata claims it has 21% more space compared to M 800. I am not able to understand how it could have 21% more space. I leave it to the mathematical wizards and the engineering brains. Tata Nano is set to change the landscape of Indian Automobile industry in a big way as well it would change the Indian roads. Tata claims that the car would give you a mileage of 20 kms per litre of petrol. The car would be priced at Rs1.40 lakhs (on road) and would definitely be very attractive to the burgeoning Indian Middle-class to satisfy their dreams of having a car.

Okay, after all the good things about Nano lets look at the controversies surrounding it as well. Mamta Banerjee has made a political statement saying that Tatas should give 10 lakh Nano cars free because of the freebies they have got for the Singur plant. She claims that Tata’s have been given land worth 1000 crores free of cost and as well as innumerable tax concessions from the Government. Turning little serious, lets look at the important questions:

  • Do we require a car like Nano considering the environmental impact?
  • Does our cities have the infrastructure to support these kind of smaller and cheaper cars?
  • How popular this car would be? Who are possible owners of this car?

Already our Indian city roads are completely choked and no way we will be able to find space for these kind of cars. There is already a big hue and cry about the increased pollution in cities which would result due to the large number of Nano cars expected on the roads. Dr Pachouri, the nobel laureate was very vocal in opposing these kind of experiments as it directly leads to higher pollution levels and global warming.

Though the car is highly efficient in terms of mileage, but just compare it to the motorcycles. An average motorcycle gives you a mileage of 45 kms per litre of petrol whereas Nano offers 20 kms under standard testing conditions. Tata is expecting the motorcycle wallahs to upgrade to Nano. They definitely need to spend a lot more on fuel. Rajiv Bajaj of Bajaj Auto, who incidentally showcased his compact car in the Auto expo, believes that the running costs plays a very crucial role in the purchase decisions of a car. Will the motorcycle wallahs be ready to spend that extra amount of money. I doubt it!

One way of answering all the questions related to pollution, environmental impact, traffic congestion is to market the cars exclusively in the rural, non-urban centres and export it to countries where there is a need for fuel efficient cars. It will be definitely be a popular choice in rural areas and also help to provide our rural population the advantages of urban India. It would also be a huge hit with the western countries where there is a demand for cars with high fuel efficiency.

Do you agree with my suggestion? Please post your comments on my novel idea.

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The Times of India Chennai edition to be launched soon!!

Posted on January 9, 2008. Filed under: Chennai, New Products, Times of India |

It has been a week of breaking news from me, if you think it is!!

This time, Times of India is going to launch its Chennai edition very soon. They have started giving out pamphlets in commercial and office complexes. As part of their innaugural offer, one year subscription costs you Rs299/- and comes with a free gift of stainless steel flask. The 6 months subscription costs you Rs170/- with a free gift of travel bag.

For die-hard Times of India fans and for people who have come down to Chennai from other parts of India, it would be a nice new year gift. Times of India, as many of us know, is the largest selling newspaper with sales of 3.1 million copies everyday. This is 100,000 more than the no.2 paper, Sun of UK.

I personally look forward to TOI very eagerly as I am a regular reader of The Hindu for many many years now. I am curious to know how different TOI is different from The Hindu.

Lets welcome Times of India to Chennai!!

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Shell petrol pumps stop selling unleaded petrol!!

Posted on December 25, 2007. Filed under: New Products |

I am regular user of Shell Petrol for the last 2 years or so. Shell has a petrol pump at Vadapalani which is closer to my home. Shell provides two variants of Petrol – Unleaded Petrol and Super Unleaded petrol. I normally use unleaded petrol for my car. Today when I went to Shell for filling up the tank, I was told that with effect from 28 Dec 2007, Shell Petrol pump would not be selling unleaded petrol instead would be selling Shell Super Unleaded. What is the big deal? Yes, Shell Super Unleaded petrol costs Rs4.10 paise more than the normal unleaded petrol.

Shell is issuing a pamphlet to all drive-in customers mentioning clearly the reasons for the same:

1. The subsidy scenario not being a level playing field, with only the Public Sector Units (read HPCL, BPCL, IOC) being provided with subsidies;

2. Shell’s inability to keep prices artificially low in the absence of subsidies, while continuing to deliver value.

Note: Words in Red and Italic were added by me and not mentioned in the Shell pamphlet.

India follows the Administered Price Mechanism (APM) for pricing of petro products. The administered price mechanism is applicable to all companies which sells petro products in the retail market. The administered price of petro-products was last changed by the Government of India some 6 months ago, I guess. The international oil prices have moved up since then resulting in oil marketing companies bleeding heavily. Government forces the oil marketing companies including the private players like Reliance, Essar and Shell to sell at the pre-determined prices. Both private and public sector oil marketing companies make sizeable losses on a daily basis but PSU oil marketing companies are compensated by the government in the form of subsidies and oil bonds.
Private retailers cant get any subsidy from the Government even after Reliance using all its might trying to influence the Government in this regard. All this being done by the Government for the benefit of you and me and also helping them to keep the inflation at lower levels artifically during the election year!! Now the Gujarat elections are over and Congress being completely drubbed, I expect a petrol price hike in January 2008.

I have been told by many people that ESSAR and Reliance used to close down their retail outlets for many months in the past due to unfavourable retail prices fixed by the Government. This time, Shell is doing it differently. Rather than closing the shop, it is not selling low price unleaded petrol. It is forcing customers to buy the costly super unleaded petrol. This would help Shell India to cut down on the losses. Shell claims it uses propriety additives that are eveloped by the R&D team at Shell Global Solutions, which helps to clean out deposits which lead to better responsiveness and improved fuel economy.

What should I do now? Switch to other PSU oil marketing companies like HPCL, BPCL etc., I guess not, because my experience tells me that I get more mileage from Shell’s fuel compared to other companies. Adulteration and the cheating in the quantity in most of the other PSU’s retailers deter me from moving to them. The service levels in a Shell Petrol Pump is entirely different from PSU petrol pumps and it is uniform across the city. The customer gets treated properly with due respect and attention. There can be exceptions of one or two PSU petrol pumps selling good quality fuel and better customer service, but overall I rate the quality as poor.

I am a loyal customer of Shell and as the Shell ad-lines goes: I swear by Shell. Let me give it a try with Shell Super Unleaded Petrol and see for myself how it helps in better mileage and engine performance.

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Amazon Kindle!!

Posted on December 17, 2007. Filed under: New Products |

My friend was mentioning about a new launch by Amazon.com of their digital storage device for books. I was really curious to know what it is and luckily I came across a news item in a weekly magazine the very next day that Amazon has launched a digital book storage device called “Amazon Kindle”. In India it is priced at Rs15600/- where you can store upto 200 books. You can store additional books under separate memory cards. It is available at USD399 on the Amazon online store. Will it get reduced during Christmas sales!!!??

Interesting electronic stuff. Geeks out there please check and let me know how useful it is. To know more about Amazon Kindle, click here.

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Amozon Kindle!!!

Posted on December 2, 2007. Filed under: New Products |

My friend was mentioning about a new launch by Amazon.com of their digital storage device for books. I was really curious to know what it is and luckily I came across a news item in a weekly magazine the very next day that Amazon has launched a digital book storage device called “Amazon Kindle”. In India it is priced at Rs15600/- where you can store upto 200 books. You can store additional books under separate memory cards. It is available at USD399 on the Amazon online store. Will it get reduced during Christmas sales!!!??

Interesting electronic stuff. Geeks out there please check and let me know how useful it is. To know more about Amazon Kindle, click here.

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