A review of
Nanovation: How a Little Car Can Teach the World to Think Big and Act Bold
by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg and Dain Dunston

Nanovation is two books that are interleaved but minimally integrated. One is a fairly compelling history of Rajan Tata's attempt to launch the Nano as a low-priced, disruptive world car. The other is a turgid and cliched business text about how to motivate employees under difficult circumstances. The fact that the portion of the book worth reading and the part that insults the intelligence are in separate sections makes reading the history of the Nano project easy: simply skip the blather at the end of each chapter.

The pure automotive part of the book is not without its own flaws, as the narrative fails to acknowledge the essential failure of the Nano to achieve its wildly ambitious original goals. Nonetheless, the tales of how Rajan Tata came to aspire to build the Nano and how Ravi Kant managed the development program are well worth reading. The story of Mamata Banerjee's successful effort to block the construction of the first Nano factory at its planned Bengali site is certainly instructive to Western audiences seeking to understand the business environment in India.

The automotive sections of the story abound with technical and design details that are sure to fascinate any enthusiast. Described in full are Tata's failed attempts to make the Nano inexpensive but not "cheap" in order to appeal to newly affluent middle class buyers. Anyone particularly curious about the Indian automotive market should definitely pick up a copy of Nanovation.

offered under the Creative Commons
      Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license offered under
      the Gnu Public License v3 Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
alison@she-devel.com (Alison Chaiken)