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He may be a two-wheeler boss with no ambitions of getting into the four-wheeler game but TVS MD Venu Srinivasan
is also known for his formidable engineering knowledge. So ET AutoMania put forth some Nano questions to him. Excerpts:


One of the things that experts have been talking about is the Nano’s engine. It’s a two-cylinder, single balance shaft engine. Is it a risk that a two-cylinder engine will be rough?

Not if the mounting is proper. That’s where the balance shaft comes in. That runs at twice the speed of the crankshaft and balances things out.

Is a two-cylinder engine strong enough to lug, chunnu, munni, mummy, papa and gaddi? As an engineer what do you feel?

The car’s top speed is low. That’s what has also been announced. But as long as you improve bottom-end torque and tune the engine accordingly, it should be fine.

If the two-cylinder low-displacement engine is such an innovative idea, how come the Koreans and Japanese didn’t think of it before? After all they are the masters of the small car game…

That’s because of the peculiarities of those markets. Both in Korea and in Japan you have freeways where the minimum speed limit is around 100 km/hour. Which means their small cars need to have higher top speed. Hence the three-cylinder engines. India doesn’t have those freeways. Here a low top-speed car is fine for the crowded, congested roads.

So what’s you take on the Nano?

The design is conventional. The two-cylinder engine means lower horse power and gtop speed. The looks are good and the interior space looks decent. It should do well in India. And if it does, China will look at it too. By 2010, there will several models in this space because companies will see the sense in it. This is where the future is.

Not in the autobahns of Europe but in the crowded cities of Asia. The established MNC players did not think the car would be so good looking and spacious. They thought it would be a slightly improved version of an auto rickshaw. But the Nano’s fit, finish and space has shocked people. If I were a car maker, I would be concerned too.

A question that analysts are asking is is there money in this game?

It will make money on volumes. The key thing is to sell around 150,000-200,000 units. That’s why the Tatas did so many things differently even with the supply chain. It’s not just a new car project, it’s a whole new business model. That’s also the reason why I am very bullish on the Nano.

Will TVS ever get into the four-wheeler business in general or the car business in particular?

No. We will never get into that business. We have decided that our gameplan will be to expand the two-wheeler business globally. Our target is to be bigger not only in India but also in markets like South America, Africa and Asia. TVS is looking to hit 4 million units of two-wheelers in the next three years. Of that we want to do at least 35% or one million units in exports.

After Indonesia, where it has invested around Rs 100 crore in an assembly line, we are looking at Thailand and Vietnam next. The second phase will cover Nigeria, Iran and SOuth America. And the last phase China because it is the most difficult market to crack.


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