Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Ta-ta Tata?

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2015 | 12:00 AMChad Bryan
Daren Blake (left) was introduced as the assistant general manager while Ian Lyn was announced at the managing director at Carmax's official launch in 2014.Chad BryanCarmax assistant general manager, Daren Blake (left), managing director, Ian Lyn (centre), and office manager Brenda Haase at the dealership's official launch, held at its Constant Spring Road, St Andrew, offices last Tuesday..
Patrons at the 2013 Jamaica Motor Show in Montego Bay examine two models of the 2012 Tata Nano, which were displayed by Metis Motors during the all-day event. The motor show also marked the Tata Nano's first launch to motor vehicle buyers in Western Jamaica.
A Tata Nano test drive model being refuelled in 2012.
Metis Motors director of new business, Joe Ferreira, with the Tata Nano in 2012.

It is likely to become increasingly difficult for Jamaican owners of the Tata Nano to service their motor vehicles, given the uncertainty of an authorised distributor to supply parts and services.

The Nano, made in India and once heralded as the cheapest car in the world, was introduced to Jamaica by Metis Motors. The brand was taken over by Carmax, but that dealership has now run into legal issues. One of the company's principals, Darren Blake, has been charged in a multimillion-dollar fraud case, while Ian Lyn, formerly with Carmax, has not responded to police calls for him to contact them.

This has left those who purchased the Nano in a very uncertain place. Among the purchasers affected is security company Marksman.

Robert Epstein, managing director of Marksman Limited, explained that it has been increasingly difficult to manage the two Tata Nano vehicles they acquired more than one year ago. "We are having problems getting parts. We keep both of them, but we have to keep cannibalising one to fix the other,"

This was confirmed by Courtney Thomas, transport manager of Marksman's parent company, Guardsman.

"They were giving problems. We bought two but had to use one to keep one going," he said.

A number of persons, including recording artiste Tanya Stephens and a number of businesses, purchased the small vehicle, its outstanding fuel economy of over 60 miles per gallon a strong selling point. The micro-mini car, capable of seating four passengers has a rear-mounted 624cc engine and a 15-litre petrol tank, .

In 2012, Metis Motors, under the stewardship of director of new business Joe Ferreira, began distribution of the Indian-made motor vehicle in the island. Then, the Nano sold for just under $950,000 new. Plans were reportedly afoot to construct a building that would house a full-service department, garage, customer service area, offices, and parts warehouse.

However, sales of the vehicle had not been faring as well as hoped for and Ferreira left the island.

Responsibility for sales of the two-cylinder hatchback was assumed by Carmax, which targeted fleet businesses, including security and courier services. As a bonus, it also acquired Metis Motor's Hope Road location.

However, months following Carmax's takeover of Tata Nano distribution, the five year-old distributor of new and used vehicles began experiencing several problems such as the uncovering of a multimillion-

dollar fraud.

It is a far cry from the promise of just two years ago when Ferreira told The Gleaner that the Nano was in Jamaica to stay. Then, it was reported that Ferreira said that Metis Motors was in the Jamaican market for the long haul and their seriousness was demonstrated by plans to construct a two-storey building on property at 22B Hope Road, St Andrew, on which the company had a six-year lease.

Ferreira said consumers' reception to the Nano car "has been affected by events surrounding the entry and exit of another car dealer, which sold a somewhat similar car, but which was having difficulty sourcing spare parts".