Executive Summary

This due-diligence report concludes our findings regarding the feasibility of implementing the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, for expansion into the U. S. market. Taking into consideration the general environmental analysis, we have concluded that increasing oil prices and a stagnant economy have coupled to increase opportunities of market demand for vehicles that are; inexpensive, fuel-efficient and compact with very basic features. The Buy American Act and other U. S.

Governmental policies and regulations are such that; emissions and safety standards represent a threat to the viability of manufacturing the Tata Nano in the U. S. without major re-engineering processes in order to make them compliant. These improvements and higher U. S. labour costs could potentially increase the price tag of the Nano to $8,000 USD. According to Michael Porter’s Industry Analysis, the Automotive Industry in the U. S. is fairly attractive due to the low threat of new entrants, low suppliers power and the low threat of substitutes. In turn this industry may be fertile for Tata to expand their operations.

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The internal resources and capabilities of Tata have been analyzed, and it is determined that their core competencies include operational efficiency and effective design and innovation (fuel and cost efficient). From the Competitor and Competitive Analysis we are able to conclude that the Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa base models are Tata Nano’s potentially biggest rivals. Moreover, it is plausible to suggest that the Tata Nano would only have a temporary competitive advantage in the U. S. In comparing three potential strategy alternatives to penetrate the U. S. arket choosing from; Joint Venture, Merger and Acquisition, Greenfield, or to merely keep the Status Quo, we have identified that the acquisition strategy is most suitable as well as financially feasible. To conclude, we highly recommend that Tata explore new opportunities and expand their operations into the U. S. market through the acquisition of an existing facility.

Introduction of the Firm Tata Motors, established in 1945, is considered to be India’s largest automobile company having generating revenues of over USD 27 Billion in 2010-11 (Tata Motors, 2011). Tata Motor’s has been a leader manufacturer in the commercial segment of automotive with having its manufacturing bases istributed all across the country (Tata Motors, 2011). Tata’s largest manufacturing businesses are “Steel” and “Motors” and the company’s apart from its operations in India, has developed itself as an International brand, currently having its operations in UK, South Korea, Thailand and Spain through subsidiaries and associate companies. Its recent acquisition of the two very famous British iconic brands Jaguar and Land rover in 2008, its launch of the world’s cheapest People’s car “Tata Nano” in 2008 and the 2004 acquisition of Daewoo have triggered Tata’s brand image as a globally competitive automotive manufacturer.

Introduction to the Project The purpose of this project is to critically analyze the feasibility and various strategies to be undertaken for Tata Motor’s to succeed in their plan to launch their low cost automotive vehicle “Tata Nano” in USA in the year 2011 – 12 (Ireson, N, 2009). We shall also discuss how well the internal capabilities and competencies of Tata Motors could help them to capture market share in the highly competitive US automotive industry. General Environment Analysis Political/Legal Segment The automotive industry has imposed a lot of regulations in the U. S. especially for foreign companies.

Critical ones include the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), The U. S. Emission Standard, and Buy American Act (BAA). First, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automotive manufacturers must conform FMVSS and regulations, regarding to safety for assembled automobile and its components (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1999). Second, under the context of global warming, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency attempts to manage the amount of the greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles and their engines through Emission Standard (U.

S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011). Third, Federal Acquisition Regulation says the cost of domestic end products’ components must exceed 50% of the cost of all its components (Buy American Act) (FARSmarterBids, n. d. ). All automotive manufacturers must satisfy those standards and regulations to legally run business in the U. S. Also, due to Buy American Act, foreign automotive companies would lose out on opportunities to reduce costs because domestic end products’ components would be more expensive than the components in their current supply chain.

Economic Segment Oil prices have grown at an exponential rate over the past 10 years, and as consumption levels continue to rise globally. As Binayak clarifies, since 97% of the transportation fuels used to propel automobiles are from oil (Binayak, 2008), this implies consumers will want to travel by the most fuel efficient means. This represents an opportunity, as there is growing demand for inexpensive, fuel efficient cars. In addition, Michigan State has been noted as a dominant automotive cluster that has been traditionally ruled by the ‘Big Three’.

However, as consumers needs have changed from high-safety and quality models to more compact and fuel-efficient, new clusters in the southern United States have emerged, where major Asian automotive manufacturing operations have taken root. (Michael Porter, 2009)  Please refer to Appendix A & B which will further elaborate. Socio-cultural Segment The U. S. nation now prefers to purchase small cars rather than large cars. One research shows that small cars‘ sales in June 2011 was 194,771 which increased 15. 3% with the one in June 2010 while larger cars’ sales was 6,732 in June 2011 which decreased 22. % with the one in June 2010 (the Wall Street Journal, 2011). Moreover, the demand for fuel efficiency vehicle has skyrocketed these days due to oil price increase.

Environmental protection shows that the sales growth rate of fuel efficiency vehicle, such as hybrid, small, and very small car, in April 2011 was higher than the other, such as SUVs and trucks (Environmental protection, 2011). These trends of demand indicate that compact and fuel-efficiency car manufacturers would have more opportunities to increase their sales. Demographic Segment The U. S. currently, have been involved in the immigration trends. While the total population in the U. S. will increase to 438 million in 2050 from 296 million in 2005, 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants and their children (Pew Social & Demographic Trends, 2008). This trend would make the U. S. an even more multi-cultural country, reducing cultural barriers in the U. S. This would make the U. S. consumers’ attitudes towards foreign brand products, like Tata, more readily acceptable. Technological Segment Safety is one of the issues that automotive companies concerned these days.

Smart car technology would be one of the most advanced technologies related to safety, such as vehicle-to-vehicle communication by Wi-Fi and GPS technology (Justin, 2011). Nedra shows that the U. S. federal government encourages such smart car technologies to reduce car accident (Nedra, 2011). Another significant issue that automotive companies faced is fuel-efficiency regarding to oil price rising and eco-friendliness. Engine technology is the key to achieve it. One study shows new split-cycle engine can improve fuel efficiency by 50 percent (Clay, 2011).

Also, another study says “hybrid engine can reduce CO2 emission by 90%” (Karen, 2011). Those technologies would increase value of a vehicle and make automotive industry more highly competitive. Opportunities -Increase of oil price lead high demand for fuel-efficiency vehicles -The cluster in Michigan State and the southern United States -The trend of demand for compact and fuel-efficiency vehicles -The trend of increase of immigrants reduce cultural barriers -Advanced smart car technology and fuel efficiency engine technology increase value of a vehicle and make automotive industry more highly competitive.

Threats -The FMVSS and regulations -The U. S. Emission Standard -BAA Industry Environment Analysis (Porter’s 5 Forces)


  • Mature Industry
  • Economies of Scale
  • Huge initial Capital Requirements
  • Huge R&D Costs
  • Access to distribution Channels
  • Legislation and government Regulations (Safety and Emission standards)


  • Several Suppliers
  • Switching Cost Low for Manufacturers
  • High Buyer power of Manufacturers Standardised Parts
  • High threat to backward integration


  • Low Switching Cost for Buyers
  • Standardised Product
  • High Customer to Producer Ratio


  • Slow Market Growth
  • Low Switching Cost for Consumers
  • High Fixed Costs
  • Undifferentiated Products


  • More Convenient
  • Higher Utility
  • High Switching

Cost in terms of Utility, Time and Convenience LOW Threat to New Entrants

From the figure above it is clear that threat of new entrants is very low as the US automotive industry is very mature and the companies need to have economies of scale in order to compete in this industry. Another major threat for new entrants, apart from the start up investments is the access to distribution channels (Dealerships and vehicle outlets) and meeting up of Legislation and government regulations on safety (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations, 2011) and emission standards (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011). Supplier Power

The bargaining power of suppliers is also very low as there are numerous suppliers of automotive parts (Oil filters, belts, Muflers etc) hence the manufacturers can switch their suppliers if needed. The automotive industry is comprised of powerful buyers (Car manufacturers) who are generally able to dictate their terms to their suppliers. Furthermore, the parts for automobiles are standardized and there is a threat of backward integration as was observed in the case of Ford  when it purchased struggling parts maker Visteon in summer 2005 (Bradley et al 2005)

Buyer’s Power As stated from the above, the buyer power is high, due to standardized nature of the automotive commodity (a vehicle) and the low switching costs associated by selecting among the competing brands (Bradley et al 2005). The manufacturer’s need to meet buyer’s satisfaction, failure to which would result in loosing market share. Threat to substitutes Although there are numerous substitutes (trains, buses and bicycles) available for automotive industry, threat of substitutes remains fairly mild due to the fact that none of the substitutes provide the utility, onvenience, independence and value that automobiles would provide (Bradley et al 2005).

Competitive Rivalry The automotive industry in US is no longer dominated by the "Big Three" (GM, Ford, and Daimler Chrysler); other global companies are also prevalent in the competitive field and hence it makes the industry highly competitive. Other reasons for high rivalry in the industry are slow market growth, high manufacturing costs and low switching costs for consumers. (Bradley et al, 2005; Highfill  et al, 2004)

From the discussion above, it can be seen that the Automotive Industry in USA is fairly attractive due to low threat of new entrants, low suppliers power and low threat of substitutes and hence Tata Nano has high chances of capturing this market. Value Chain Analysis Value chain is a very important tool in analyzing the nature of business as it describes the activities that take place in a business and relates them to an analysis of the competitive strength of the business.

It is one way of identifying which activities are best undertaken by a business and which are best provided by others (out sourced). Knowledge, Skill and Experience Financial Leverage Mgmt Leadership Human Resources Resources Capabilities Core Competencies Effective R & D Merger, Acquisition and Expansion Efficient Operation Process Management

Production of Least expensive vehicle (Cost and Fuel Efficient) Effective Design & Innovation Technological Resources Resources Tata possesses numerous amount of tangible and intangible resources. Tata Motors holds a rich history in terms of utilizing their resources effectively in order to build a strong reputation, customer service and brand image in their home country. The company has satisfactorily used their resources in adopting different marketing strategies of advertising and Product branding (Carazoo, 2011).

The tangible resources discussed include Human Resources (which entails support, training and human capital) and Technological resources (Design and IT softwares) and the intangible resources of Tata Motors include Management leadership and the knowledge, skills and experience that they have developed since their inception back in 1945. These invaluable resources enable Tata Motors to operate more efficiently and make informed financial decisions for the betterment and longevity of the corporation.

Furthermore, Tata’s strong financial leverage has enabled them to strategically acquire and merge into several beneficial relationships around the globe, significantly increasing their revenues. Capabilities The capabilities of Tata Motors include the in depth Research and developement which lead to the manufacturing of the world’s most economical and inexpensive car “Tata Nano”, which is a result of their efficient use of technological resources (Gaylord, 2010).

Mergers and acquisitions have been a key strategy for Tata Motors to penetrate the International market, and this was proved by the acquiring of the two british iconic brands Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008 (Tata Motors, 2011). This capability would be a driving force for the company to have a competitive advantage of its two major competitors Hyundai and Nissan in the low price car segment. Tata Nano’s Fuel efficiency of 52mpg (Kia, 2011) and Cost of $2,500 (Gaylord, 2010) has been the two main important aspects of its sale in the country.

Core Competencies The core competencies of Tata Motors which arise from the resources and their capabilities are the effective design and Innovation which arose from their launch of Tata Nano in 2008, which is the worlds most inexpensive car and the launch of compressed air vehicle MiniCAT in 2009 (Popular Mechanics, 2008). Moreover the design and innovation capabilities of Tata has given them an edge in terms of being economical – a major success factor for launch of the Tata Nano into USA.

The other core competency through which Tata Motor’s have developed their reputation in the industry is the operational efficiency by having in house manufacturing activities which include the manufacturing of gearboxes, Transmission mechanisms, Machine tools, dies and fixtures (Docstoc, 2010). Summary: From the above table, it is seen that Tata Nano is highly competitive in terms of the estimated price and fuel economy for the compliant US Nano model, which are some of the most important factors for this US vehicle segment, and prospective consumers.

It is alleged that if Tata’s safety features are able to match those of the other competitors, and meet requirements for both the US safety and emissions regulations, that this could conceivably raise the price of the vehicle to roughly $8,000, a huge difference compared to what it is sold for in India, a mere $2,500 (Gaylord, 2010). In order to become compliant with EU vehicle standards, the Tata Nano added some necessary safety modifications in order to pass crash inspections at the MIRA test centre in England back in 2009 (Tech Blorge, 2009).

These modifications included “extra foam added to the cant rail, a reinforced front longitudinal structure, some added structure behind the front bumper and in the front doors, and a remotely triggered air bag. ” (Tech Blorge, 2009). While the revamped Nano was able to pass European safety crash standards, in the US “the Nano's two-cylinder, 623cc engine will need to be reworked before it can meet pollution caps” (Gaylord, 2010. As mentioned, “the Nano will need to undergo a spot of re-engineering…you would think a more inviting interior would need to be considered as well. ” (The Motor Report, 2009).

The interior features of some of the main competitors, Nissan Versa especially, provides a formidable opposition in terms of their interior features and space available and Tata will have to work to improve this area while also keeping their price rock bottom. With regards to the brand loyalty, Tata has a very strong name in India and they have helped build up a reasonably good reputation internationally, especially with the recent acquisition of some of the world’s top automotive brands, Jaguar and Land Rover, though these brand perceptions may not be initially transferable to the US market for the economical and compact vehicle segment.

In recent years with current economic realities, market share amongst “the Big Three” has somewhat eroded, though in 2010, the aggregate sum of Ford, GM and Chrysler’s market share was still 45. 2% (GoodCarBadCar, 2011). Conversely, international competitor’s market share has blossomed in recent years. The aggregate of Nissan, Hyundai and Others is 17. 1% (GoodCarBadCar, 2011).

In this vehicle segment, the majority of the main competitors Tata would face are international, and this can be logically attributed to; increasing multicultural complexities in the US eroding traditional Amero-centric views about brands of other foreign competitors, and the fact that international brands are manufacturing and producing in the US, and hiring American workers, hence increasing their brand image. Moreover, the reliability, fuel efficiency and prices of many international competitors compact car vehicle segment cannibalize several traditional US automotive companies’ business models and product offerings. Note to Reader: The above table ranks and evaluates Tata’s perceived core competencies for the US market, that being both operational efficiency and effective design and innovation. As Tata has yet to come to the US market, for all intents and practical purposes, we believe these competencies and evaluations of their rankings to be reasonable assumptions given our due-diligence. Moreover, from our research, we have made informed evaluations of Tata’s main competitors.

The table above compares Tata with their perceived main competitors in this fuel efficient, compact and inexpensive vehicle segment, while also taking into consideration the valuable, rare, cost to imitate, and the ability of the company(s) to organize to exploit their products in the US market. We have identified the Nissan Versa and Hyundai Accent base models as Tata Nano’s prospectively fiercest rivals in the U. S. based mostly on their competitive pricing, and fuel economy. From the above table, we see that Tata would have only a temporary competitive advantage as other companies are likely to mimic their operational efficiencies in order to compete and gain market share.

This is because the Nano has been traditionally designed and manufactured back in India in such a competitive fashion that it is considered the world’s cheapest car (Gaylord, 2010). The base model Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa can be considered Tata Nano’s fiercest competitors given their respective prices of $9,985 and $9,990 for their base models (Kia, 2011). The operational efficiencies of both Nissan and Hyundai can likewise be considered a temporary competitive advantage. As Carlos Tavares, Chairman of Nissan America explains in regards to their recent and proactive organizational changes, “management changes are part of Nissan's ongoing efforts to align leadership talent with opportunities for growth and increased operational efficiencies” (Auto Channel, 2011).

The Nissan Versa base model, with a price tag of just $9,990 provides a lot of value (Gold, 2010). “As of 2011, the Versa 1. 6 comes standard with power windows and door locks -- not something you'd expect in a car this cheap…you can add antilock brakes, air conditioning and an automatic transmission and still keep the price (just) under $13,000”(Gold, 2011). From this, we can see that lots of value added and differentiated product offerings from Nissan which have translated into increased market share as Nissan currently holds 7. 8% (GoodCarBadCar, 2011). Moreover, in terms of effective design and innovation, Nissan, like Tata, has a sustainable competitive advantage.

According to Al Castignetti, VP of Nissan North America Inc. “compact cars are getting lots of attention lately due to rising fuel costs and concerns about the environment yet many buyers are disappointed in what they find-vehicles rife with compromise. This new Versa sedan, a ‘clean sheet’ ground up design, takes small cars in a whole new direction-proving that you don’t have to sacrifice style for affordability, interior roominess for a smaller footprint, or drivability for high mpg. ” (Netcarshow, n. d) The Hyundai Accent base model, part of the Hyundai, Kia Motor Group (as of 2009) has significantly increased their North American automotive market share in recent years to 7. 8% (Taylor III, 2010).

This too, can be linked to their high level of operational efficiencies. “By monitoring operations in real time, Hyundai can identify problems in an instant and react quickly” (Taylor III, 2010). According to John Lynch of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, “He sees Hyundai and Kia gaining 3 1/2 points of market share over a 4 year span. That would be enough to vault the Koreans past Chrysler and Nissan into fifth place in the U. S. , with a share of 10. 8% by 2013. ”(Taylor III, 2010). Please refer to Appendix C which will provide a visual of the US Auto Manufacturer’s market share for 2010. In addition to operational efficiencies, Hyundai too, has become effective in terms of design and innovation qualities.

Along with improved quality, Hyundai began to pay attention to international designs with greater market appeal. Its cars developed cleaner lines with more elegant details. ”(Taylor III, 2010). However, we believe that Hyundai is vulnerable to market share encroachment from the Nissan Versa and potentially the Tata Nano. Current Strategy Identification Tata Motors has been using mergers and acquisitions as their current strategy. Tata acquired Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008. Tata also acquired Spanish car manufacturer Hispano Carrocera in 2009 and Daewoo Motors in 2004. However these subsidiaries have still retained their same brand name (Tata Sons Ltd, 2011). Strategic Alternatives Joint Venture

In employing a joint venture (JV) strategy, Tata can exploit resources and capabilities of existing car manufacturers in the US market. A JV strategy would benefit Tata in starting operations in short period of time using market knowledge of the JV partner. By using this strategy, Tata can diversify risks of initial capital investments. There are downfalls associated with this strategy such as, Tata will have to share their operational efficiencies which they have built over the years. If US market becomes highly receptive to the idea of the inexpensive car, then Tata would have to share its profits with the partner. Since JV involves sharing control over decision making, it may stimulate conflict among partners.

As well as objectives of both the partners must synchronize, for instance, increasing quality standards and employee incentives will most likely increase the operational cost. Acquisition Acquisition strategy would add value to TATA as it is quicker to execute operations. To acquire an existing assembly plant, the cost could vary as the plant may require redesigning according to operational needs. Acquiring has another downfall, as it limits the choice of adopting a location strategy. Greenfield Greenfield strategy will offer TATA to have its own plant layout. It also allows protecting the company’s operational efficiencies. US market is diversified and gives flexibility to choose a location strategy. This strategy can be very expensive initially thereby increasing initial investments. Status Quo

Status Quo refers to not adopt any of the above mentioned strategies and focusing on the home market. Tata Nano has a great demand in the domestic market which generates enough revenues. In India, due to high demand and production constraints people must apply for a draw. Therefore staying in the home country could be a more risk averse strategy. If the demand of Tata Nano stays the same in the US as in India (71,000 cars up to 2011) (Mishra, 2011) and the MSRP is $8000; this would forgo a total loss of $568,000,000 for three years. However, given the fact that US economy is stagnant, this suggests that inexpensive and fuel efficient cars will be in huge demand and will appeal to the majority of consumers. Recommended Strategy

Evaluating the pros and cons of each option, we are led to believe the acquisition of an existing manufacturing plant, within the U. S. , is the most suitable option for expansion of the Nano in the US. There have been 22 plants closed by GM and Chrysler, and 16 pending closure by 2011 (mytimes, 2009). This provides an opportunity for Tata to negotiate and refurbish an existing manufacturing plant. There has been an approval of sale for a GM Wilmington, Delaware auto manufacturing plant for US $ 20 million (fullsizechevy, 2011). There are three other plants waiting to be sold in the US by GM (fullsizechevy, 2011). We are led to believe this because there are many suitable and abandoned locations which were formerly automotive manufacturing plants.

It also reduces Tata’s initial investment requirements while maintaining cost leadership strategies. Through applying this strategy, the potential for rehiring a local and displaced workforce may provide intangible benefits, and necessary clusters that support the industry. Financial Implications Tata must keep their investment capital requirements minimal and acquiring an existing plant to be refurbished, will suffice these needs. As the Nano model’s assembly would not require the most state of the art technology, (such as electronic circuit boards which are present in new cars are not present in Nano) a plant with basic machinery and equipment would suffice for the requirements of their operations.

Initial capital requirements for purchasing an existing plant to be refurbished could cost within the vicinity of $ 20 million (Full Size Chevy, 2011) though it is conceivable that an additional $20 to $30 million may be required for this refurbishment and other miscellaneous costs, therefore bringing the aggregate costs to approximately $ 50 million, whereas building a brand new plant facility, may exceed $200 million. (Qingfen, 2011). If we are to assume that the production capacity at a refurbished US location of Tata Nano’s is on par with the manufacturing capabilities of operations in India, we can estimate that they will produce 20,000 units annually.

At 20,000 units per year, and using the estimated MSRP of $8,000, we can see that annual total revenue of the Tata Nano US operations would be approximately $160 million (20,000 x 8,000 =160,000,000). According to Mergent Online, Tata Motors return on investment from operations (ROI) is 14. 28% as of the fiscal year ending, 2010 (Mergent Online, 2011). From this, we can deduce that 14. 8% (ROI) of total revenue, ($160 million), is equal to $22. 84 million. If we are to subtract this calculated and annual ROI sum from their initial investment, the payback period is merely over 2 years ($50M/$22. 84M [ROI]= 2. 18 years). From this perspective, it is reasonable to conclude that it is a much more financially feasible option to recommend a refurbishment opportunity as the penetration strategy to the US Market. Conversely, a Greenfield manufacturing facility could cost in excess of $200 million and the subsequent payback period, (using these same assumptions about ROI, MSRP of the Nano, and their production capacity), would exceed 8 years. (200/22. 84=8. 76 years).


Tata Motors is one of the largest global automotive corporations from India. They have strong and unique capabilities to compete with other automotive companies in the global market. The product which reflects fully on their capabilities is “Tata Nano” which is the least expensive car in the world. The U. S. automotive market is mature and highly competitive among domestic automotive companies and foreigners. However, the U. S. market is still attractive for foreign automotive companies, and there are several opportunities for especially compact and fuel-efficient vehicle manufacturers. Therefore, Tata Motors should consider getting into the U. S. utomotive market, and enhance their business opportunities.


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