Picture: Independent Media.
Picture: Independent Media.
Tata hopes to create a more upmarket image for its Nano with the upgraded Twist model.
Tata hopes to create a more upmarket image for its Nano with the upgraded Twist model.
Tata says the new Twist is loaded with features, at least compared to the previous versions.
Tata says the new Twist is loaded with features, at least compared to the previous versions.

Mumbai, India - Tata’s Nano was the car that was going to revolutionise affordable motoring, debuting to much fanfare just over 10 years ago.

And yet it all went up in smoke, both literally and figuratively, with dismal sales throughout its life and even controversy over reports of cars catching fire.

Now it appears that the Nano's number is up.

Automotive News reports that Tata produced just one Nano last month, while also quoting Tata as previously stating that the car in its present form “cannot continue beyond 2019."

If there is a successor on the way, it certainly hasn’t been announced at this stage, and if history is anything to go by, a similarly-positioned car would not make any business sense.

The Nano was proudly billed as the world’s cheapest car - hitting the Indian market with a base price under 100 000 rupees (the equivalent at the time of just R17 500) back in 2008, but most versions cost a lot more than that and today the car starts at the equivalent of around R47 000.

Tata even tried to reinvent its minicar in 2015, with the release of the more upmarket ‘GenX’ variant with more luxury features, in a desperate bid to move the car upstream in a market that increasingly favoured value over ‘cheap and nasty’.

The underlying sentiment was that it’s simply not cool to drive such a cheap car.

Not aiding its cause was a rather modest 28kW 624cc two-cylinder engine and four-speed manual gearbox, and a questionable safety record. Let's not start on comfort features - entry versions didn’t even sport a fan or heater.

In the end, the world’s most basic car was simply too basic. But it certainly seemed like a good idea at the time.

IOL Motoring