Malayali Car Enthusiast to drive Tata Nano 25000 Km (Around India in 80 days) !

Mr Thomas Chacko preparing for the trip
Photo Source :

1 Car Nut +  1 Wild Dream + 1 Tata Nano + 25000Km of Road  + 80 Days = Recipe for Epic Road Trip ? Definitely !

Kochi based auto enthusiast and long road trip geek  (among a long list lot of other illustrious achievements) Mr Thomas Chacko cooked up this dream road trip while editing the trip details of Suresh Joseph who covered all Indian state capitals and all zonal railway headquarters in a Maruti Swift.  Rather than do the same road trip he wanted to add some more excitement – by choosing to add in the farthest points of the country in all directions possible , making the distance to cover touch 25,000 Km and to do this in around 2.5 months.  He managed to sweet talk Mr Ratan Tata(through a letter) to have Tata Motors sponsor a Tata Nano as well.  Mr Chacko will be doing this trip without a convoy of on road assistance as well.  He is planning on doing all the driving himself but will have company with him across the trip from his family  – his wife, son, daughter, brother, sister and brother-in-law.The road trip has kicked off on May 3rd and is to conclude by July 20th,2012.

Just looking at the plans things seem easy – plain math says that 25000 Km in 80 days would come to 312 Km per day. Though the details of the specific daily routes/distances is not mentioned – it would mean driving a minimum of 6+ hours (assuming an average speed of around 55Kmph) each day. Of course this may vary depending on road conditions and traffic.

Using the Nano for such trips is not new – The Nano Superdrive event in 2010 covered 15,000 kilometers across 36 cities in around 26 days with multiple cars and drivers primarily with the intent to set at rest fears of the Nano’s reliability and safety. The Nano(s) came out of the experience unscathed.

However I wish there was a bit more to this road trip than the distance, endurance of man, machine and time factor – am sure its still not too late to use the publicity from this drive to benefit some charity or other. So far all that is clear is that the journey will be documented in a book called Mano Et Nano which obviously will be printed by Mr Chackos own publishing company. Will be a fun read am sure either way.

Do follow the updates from his blog (I wish the site is updated frequently – it hasn’t been as of writing this post). Some funny comments to the initial post on the site ask if the Nano would crack first or the Chacko would ?

I salute Mr Thomas first for being a car nut and for being crazy enough to embark on such a trip. Am also happy to see his family come forward to participate and support  him on the trip.  It is truly an inspiration to see such road trips being planned and executed. Hope to do something like this before my bucket kicking.

Running Costs – Nano Vs Competition

Tata Nano -- 2500$ Car Launched In Auto Expo 2...
age via Wikipedia

I came across an article  in Money Today that talked about the running costs of the Tata Nano compared to the Maruti 800, the Santro and the Swift.  It was a very interesting read especially since I was wanting to put up a running cost calculator of my own on this website. I felt a better comparison would be of the Tata Nano with the Maruti Suzuki 800, the Maruti Suzuki Alto, the Maruti Suzuki Omni, the base Hyundai Santro and the Tata Indica Xeta GL. These are the 5 cheapest vehicles currently available. I feel there is no point comparing it with the Swift. The only true comparison is with the M800. The others are much costlier.

I have used Chennai prices as my reference. Insurance values come from For registration and life tax have used a standard 8%. I have used a different way to calculate costs and have added some parameters as well. Of course most of the parameters may need to be tweaked for actual use but hope this gives an idea.

Please click on the below image to view the comparison chart.


For 3 years the Nano has the lowest running cost with the 800 close behind. The Alto and the Omni are very similarly priced while the Santro and Xeta are also similarly positioned.

graphrunning1Of course the maintenance costs of the Tata Nano still need to be seen. Hope the quality of the finished vehicle will be decent enough.

Am still working on an online running cost calculator. Will add it in when I am done with it. Till then do let me know your comments on this comparison.  If you feel like you could also play with the excel I used to create it runningcostcalculator.

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Accessorizing The Nano

If you are planning to buy a Tata Nano and want help deciding how to accessorize it-read on…

A lot depends on the trim level you plan to buy. If you go in for the base version, you spend less on the car upfront and have money to spare to accessorize. You could also go in for a middle-of-the-road variant as well and accessorize accordingly. If you can afford the top of the line variant and still are not satisfied with the accessories, you may want to look at a costlier car :-).

The 3 variants details known as of now are (Source:,

Tata NANO at the Auto Expo 2008
Image via Wikipedia

Base ( On Road Price  Approx: Rs. 1,10,000)

    Seat Belts (ELR Front, Static Rear)
    Engine opening through rear bumper
    Speedometer and Odometer
    High mounted Rear Stop lamp
    Centrally placed exhaust
    Only Driver’s seat adjust-sliding and reclining
    Fixed front passenger seat
    Folding Rear Seats
    2-Spoke Steering wheel
    Grey bumpers and interiors
    Driver side outside rear view mirror

CX(Adds the following on the Base)( On Road Price  Approx: Rs. 1,30,000)

    HVAC (Air conditioner with heater)
    Tinted Glass
    Both Driver and Co-driver seats slide and recline
    2 tone grey interiors and seats
    Optional Metallic paint.
    Hopefully the CX gets body colored bumpers.

LX (Along with the features of Base CX Adds the following)( On Road Price  Approx: Rs. 1,60,000)

    Front Power windows
    Central Locking
    Front and Rear fog lamps
    3-Spoke Steering wheel
    Moulded door trim with fabric inserts
    Floor console with glass holder
    Anti-Glare inside rear view mirror
    Sun-visors on both sides

You have to define your vehicle budget as the first step. Based on that you

Tata Nano
Image via Wikipedia

can determine what you need to or what you  can add on as an accessory. Also decide if you have that sum all at once or if you need to spread it over a period of time.
For an all-at-once deal you could either spend it all on ICE and interiors, exteriors or on performance options or on a mix of it all. For a bit at a time you may want to do the exterior at one time, interior at another etc.


Factory installed options (must do at booking time):
The stop start technology is a must have in addition to getting a diesel if this is at all given as a factory option. This would improve mileage by a great deal. As of now only the petrol’s will be launched.

Must have exterior list:
Get exterior rear-view mirrors to make sure you are aware of what traffic is there outside. A single one shouldn’t cost more than Rs. 500. (Required on all models from Base upwards)

Must have interior:
Music system and a set of 4 speakers. This on a minimum would cost you around Rs. 8, 000.