Friday, April 20, 2007

What difference a Wheel can make

Recently this article on The incredible story of Tata Motors and the Rs 1-lakh car on, about how Tata Motors turned around from the lows of late 1990s and how it transformed itself from a truck making giant to a leading car manufacturer.

I would like to share one interesting part of this article which gives an interesting insight in the mindset of rural India. Mr Wagh mentioned in the para was invovled in the designing of the latest Tata offering Ace and he narrates his experiences when researching in the early part of the development of Ace.

Before starting the project, Wagh did something no one at Tata Motors ever had: He talked to customers. The three-wheeler men inevitably insisted on a cheap, dependable truck that could go from village to market carrying, say, 200 chickens, a ton of onions or potatoes, or 2,000 eggs. One night, as sunset approached, Wagh stuck with one rickshaw driver. "I kept asking the question. Why? Why? Why do you want a four-wheeler?" Wagh remembered. Finally, he got the real answer. It turned out it wasn't really a problem of chickens or eggs. "If I had a four-wheeler, I would have better marriage prospects in my village," the young man said. Drivers of three-wheelers are looked down upon in India. Wagh realized that four wheels had emotional, not just practical, appeal.

Even in the wildest of my dreams I could not have thought that an extra wheel to man's vehicle can enhance the marriage prospects in rural India. Interesting isn't? Is this the reason why truck drivers have such a good image in the villages?

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