July 4 dawned bright and clear, bringing me the news that I was one of #TheChosenOnes for the Tata GenxNano Sanand factory visit along with 12 lucky bloggers and 20 Tata GenxNano customers. These customers were chosen as winners via a contest by Tata Motors Limited, India’s largest automobile company, which entitled them to an all-expenses-paid trip with their family and a tour of the iconic factory, culminating in seeing their GenXNano roll off the assembly line in Sanand, Gujarat.
The Tata GenxNano Easy Shift, launched in May 2015, is the newest compact hatch in town and is priced from Rs.1.99 lakh upwards (Thanks Shrinidhi!). More about the car here. I am fascinated with their latest features like latest motion gesture innovation – where you blink to get it parked and smile to see it move!
This massive manufacturing facility at Sanand is spread over 1100 acres and I was looking forward to enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit it as one of #TheChosenOnes.
Now I have a very soft spot for factories, what with my work history of handling the industrial belt for the State I was in charge of. Excited and absolutely looking forward to it, I awaited my agenda and tickets. The efficient folks at Tata Motors phoned to let me know my flight was at 6.15 am on the morning of July 6 – a Monday.
Sunday, July 5 went by in a flurry of activities and family time.
I was up at 2.45 am on July 6, Monday morning to get the coffee going. Yes, no matter when I wake up, coffee fuels me and makes everything look great. With the blessings of my folks, I grabbed my backback and set off to the airport at 4 am on Monday morning. Indrani, Swathi and Amar Shekhar were also on the same flight.
Thus began the best trip I’ve experienced as a blogger, so far.
Our flight landed in Ahmedabad a few minutes earlier than scheduled and we stepped out of the airport to see placards bearing our names – our cars were waiting to whisk us off to Novotel, the 5-star hotel booked for our stay.
The Tata Motors folks were there to welcome us. After we registered, we were shown to our rooms. There was a welcome kit with our program, a cap and a name tag to use for the visit to the Tata GenNano factory the next day. We left our bags in our rooms and headed down for a leisurely and sumptuous breakfast. Whoaa. What a spread! I could reel off the names of at least 20 items including the typical Gujarati yummies.
After topping off breakfast with a fab cup of coffee, we decided to take in a few sights in Ahmedabad, since we had until 7 pm.
We booked a cab and took off to Adalaj Stepwell. Our cab driver tried to convince us to visit the various temples en route but we resisted and arrived at our chosen destination – the Adalaj Stepwell. A feast for the eyes and soul!
The weather was very warm – but for anyone who has lived in Bangalore – any weather is too warm! We refreshed ourselves with fresh tender coconut water and took off to the Sabarmati Ashram where we spent the next hour soaking in history and the wise words of the Mahatma Gandhiji, Father of our Nation.
The rumbling in our tummy reminded us it was time for lunch and we went looking for authentic Gujarati food. The kind folks at “Honest” restaurant directed us to Toran Dining Hall where we enjoyed a yum Gujarati “thaali”
From lunch, we were off to Law market – to shop. What a pretty place! I totally surprised myself by not buying anything. Took a lot of photos though! Around 3.45 pm we were tired. The heat was tiring, actually and we unanimously decided to return to the hotel – talk about everyone being happy!
The evening event was due to begin at 7 pm and was planned for #TheChosenOnes by Tata Motors and the Wizcraft folks.
- There were mint mojitos
- There was fun and games (yes my team won!)
- There was music
- There were photos opps – the photos were instantly handed over in a frame!
There was a caricaturist!
We played he drums with Varun Venkat of Taal – some of us enjoyed playing for the first time. I shot this video via the Periscope app that enables live telecast and shares on Twitter, too.
— Vidya Sury (@vidyasury) July 6, 2015
There was food
- There was laughter
- We enjoyed connecting with bloggers friends and the families that had been invited for the event.
The Tata Motors team was so wonderful and attentive that we did nothing but smile/grin/laugh all the time and enjoy ourselves thoroughly! Incidentally I had met a few of these team members during a previous Tata event and that felt doubly good.
We closed the evening with a full heart and tummy and returned to our luxurious rooms for some much needed R & R.
We were eagerly looking forward to the next day. We set the alarm and were off to dreamland.
First time in history – Tata GenxNano plant visit
July 7 dawned, a pleasant day with exciting things ahead. We got ready, had a solid breakfast and were ready to leave for the Tata Motors GenxNano Sanand facility.
It was a 45 minute drive from the Novotel hotel and we settled down for a pleasant bus ride.
We arrived at the factory to a royal red carpet welcome – literally – with crowns, a shower of glitter and sashes proclaiming we were #TheChosenOnes.
The visionary Mr Tata
The tour began with a short presentation in the “Nano” room where the Tata Motors Team, comprising of Mr. Girish Wagh, Senior Vice President, Programme Planning and Project Management, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Tata Motors, Ms. Delna Avari, Head, Marketing Communications & Services, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit and Mr Hemant Kulkarni, Plant Head – introduced us to the Sanand facility’s very interesting history, and the conceptualization of the Tata GenxNano, followed by quick briefing for the day.
The factory was originally meant to be based in Singur in West Bengal to realize the vision, the dream of the cheapest car – however, they decided to move the entire set up to Sanand, Gujarat – in a record time of 14 months! West Bengal’s loss and Gujarat’s gain, I’d say! Also, the 1100 acres awarded to the factory by the Government was actually owned by Mr.Tata himself before he gave it to the government, so talk about coming a Full Circle and things meant to be! Tata Motors has now reserved part of this land for its vendors who manufacture key components for them.
In fact, Mr Tata was actively involved in designing the GenxNano. Mr. Wagh, told us that the inspiration for the seats came from Mr Tata – where he suggested they take a look at his aircraft’s seats.
After the briefing there were refreshments (again!!) before we set off on our tour.
Anticipation was high in the air as we formed into groups and assigned vehicles with guides to take us on the tour around the award-winning factory where a GenxNano is rolled out every 58 seconds!
We were privileged to be the first ones to ever tour the Sanand factory – a great moment in history where the factory was opened to someone other than Tata employees.
Yes, we looked longingly at these – they’re for plant tours and not intended for sale
Photography was only allowed in specific places, understandably, as machinery and technology is patented. We were lucky to just be present to see the factory.
- World-class manufacturing facility and processes
- State of the art equipment
- Sophisticated top of the line robotics
- High speed production lines
- Environmentally conscious practices with energy-efficient equipment
- Health facilities for employees
- Social responsibility through contribution to the community via development initiatives for health, education and creating employment opportunities
Our tour of the Tata Nano factory spanned the Press shop, Weld shop, Paint shop and Assembly shop.
We began by driving through the Press shop where steel is cut and pressed into shape and made into the panels that build the GenxNano. This is done by 100+ robots. From here, these go into the weld area where robots weld them together.
The lovely Ms.Shipra kept up an engaging commentary throughout our trip. The paint shop is a restricted area and we moved on to the Assembly shop. Here is where the GenxNano gets its engine. It then goes into the TCF section where the trims, chassis and filaments, accessories including the car seats, wheels, tires, steer wheel, etc. are fitted. There’s quality checking at every stage to eliminate the possibility of errors.
What a fascinating tour! I loved seeing the motivating messages clearly visible in all the areas. The plant was spotlessly clean and our tour inside concluded with this:
Then, the moment that everyone was waiting for!
The Grand Finale when each of the 20 customers, #TheChosenOnes was handed over their beautiful Tata GenxNano personally by Mr.Wagh, Mr. Hemant Kulkarni, and Ms. Delna Avari, amid much celebration and fanfare. They also got a “birth certificate” for their car. What a proud and emotional moment for 20 families!
Proud young owners of the brand new Tata GenxNano!
Here’s what one of #TheChosenOnes – Mr and Mrs Sur – who just received their Tata GenxNano, have to say
(Special thanks to Amar for this video – mine somehow got messed up!)
It was time for #TheChosenOnes to leave their mark here:
From here, we walked the short distance to the spot where we had a photo taken of the entire group – by a drone camera that buzzed above us. Oh yes – there were camera men perched dangerously on top of a bus to cover the group too!
Next stop was the infinity track. En route, we saw the tracks where the cars undergo rigorous torture tests to ensure that the customer gets the absolute best. We saw a car go through the water test. The water used for the water test is recycled.
The Tata Motors GenxNano plant is eco-friendly and 15% of its power is generated by their windmills in Kutch. They have a beautiful lake on the premises that is home to several species of birds.
We visited the lake and then, after a refreshing cold drink headed out for fun at the infinity track where we got to drive both versions of the GenxNano – manual and auto.
I would love one of these!
The magnificent tour was wrapped up with a glorious lunch at their canteen.
After lunch, we returned to the Novotel hotel where the dynamic marketing manager, Mr.Harsh awaited us with – you guessed it – snacks! We also got a tour of the hotel.
Did I mention I loved the hotel stay? Yes, it was excellent!
Soon, it was time to leave for the airport…and I got home at almost midnight – happy and with wonderful memories. I carried home a personalized mug with my caricature on it!
The day dawned bright and clear, reminding me that this blog is 12 years old today.
What a fabulous way to celebrate 12 years of blogging!
Thank you Tata Motors. I rate this as my best trip /experience ever so far, as a blogger. Thoughtfully planned, superbly organized and designed to make everyone happy. I felt truly lucky to be among #TheChosenOnes. I applaud Tata Motors for this marvelous one-of-a-kind customer-delight experience and a family event!
No wonder some of their customers were buying their second Nano car!
Please visit this link to explore the Tata GenxNano