A business tycoon in a people’s car! MRF Chairman and Managing Director Vinoo Mammen can’t resist driving around in a Nano despite his fleet of high-end luxury vehicles

For purely city travel in a car, it probably does not get better than Nano with its micro size and fuel efficiency. And, when you throw in a ridiculously low starting price, you know why the car attracted international media attention of a scale unprecedented in Indian automobile history. The Nano is expected to be lapped up by Indian families hoping to graduate from a two-wheeler to a four-wheeler, but the car has gone beyond expectations. It has travelled into the hearts of even auto buffs whose primary considerations while buying a car are not price and fuel efficiency. As his company is the OE tyre supplier for Tata Nano, it is not surprising that MRF Chairman and Managing Director Vinoo Mammen has one parked in his driveway. But nobody expected him to take to the little Nano the way he has. Not just for his daily commuting, he swears by the Nano for navigating through any choked city road. Wherever he goes, people are curious to find out why a business tycoon drives around in a people’s car. “When you are in the Nano, you have a sense of being on the move. While the big cars are stuck, Nano always manages to find a way out,” he says. Vinoo, who has a stable of high-end luxury cars, says peak-hour traffic obliterates differences between a superfast and a basic car. “I’m not going to pretend that the Nano scores over an expensive luxury car, but I know that this car has a fighting chance of beating the worst traffic and taking me to office on time.”

Vinoo lives on the farther end of Harrington Road, closer to the metro train lines, and his office is on Greams Road. Not a long commuting distance. But between these two localities lie some of the busiest stretches.

Vinoo thinks the Nano is laudatory not just because of compactness. “Its roof is high enough for you to slide in without having to bend too much. This feature will benefit older passengers.” He adds that the car was stable when they got it on the testing track, and pushed it to scale speeds higher than what is allowed for city travel. “I primarily got this Nano for my technical staff, hoping they will add to their knowledge bank. As you can see, it has served more than its intended purpose,” laughs Vinoo.

J. Anand, Managing Director of Jayem Automotives, which works closely with Tata Motors and MRF and has contributed to the Nano project, agrees with the findings of MRF’s technical team. Anand says the wider, bigger rear tyres provide the car greater grip on treacherous surfaces and make for better handling around corners.

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