Tata to re-start Nano
New Delhi - India's Tata Motors offered on Monday to replace the starter motor on all old Nano models, but said the move was not related to safety concerns surrounding the world's cheapest car.
The five-seater hatchback, which has suffered a series of fires since its launch in 2009, costs as little as $2 770 for the no-frills model.
A Tata Motors spokesperson told AFP the company was offering the replacement starter motors for cars produced between July 2009 and October this year because "we have a new one and it further improves the car's performance".
"There are no safety worries," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Tata introduced its new variant of the egg-shaped Nano in November to boost customer appeal with a wider range of colours and more luxurious interiors along with better fuel efficiency and engine power.
The Nano's sales have largely disappointed amid concerns over the engine fires, production delays, and cut-throat competition in the small-car segment of India's vast vehicle market.
The carmaker has blamed the fires on "isolated" and "unrelated" reasons.
The Tata spokesperson would not disclose the cost of the upgrade, but the Finance Chronicle newspaper said the company - one of India's biggest business conglomerates - would spend up to $208m replacing the starter motors of 145 000 Nanos.
Last November, Tata offered Nano owners the option of installing additional safety equipment, but said the move did not amount to a recall.
Observers say the company has failed to get its marketing right, simply selling the Nano as "cheap" rather than an aspirational product for India's emerging and status-conscious middle classes.