Nano’s day: Ratan Tata keeps his promise of delivering the world's cheapest car
THE WORLD’S cheapest car, the Tata Nano, hits the streets today, as the first customer gets the keys to a vehicle that its makers hope will transform travel for millions of Indians. The head of Tata Motors, Ratan Tata, was to deliver the first car in person at a central Mumbai dealership, the company said. No details were immediately available about the recipient or the type of Nano being delivered. But analysts said the delivery was a positive step, after a land dispute forced the firm off the site of a factory it was building to produce the cars in West Bengal, fuelling concerns about its ability to meet demand on time. "I think it's very significant," the associate editor of trade magazine Autocar Professional, Darius Lam, said. "They have been talking about delivering this car since last year and subsequently due to the problems they have had with moving the factory they have had to delay it by at least one year. "It really shows that now they are getting their production in hand and are able to start delivering." Some 100,000 people were selected from a ballot to be the first recipients of the Nano, which reviewers have compared to the European Smart car and the classic "People's Car", the Volkswagen Beetle. They include a roadside cobbler from Mumbai, who had been saving for seven years to buy a two-wheeler, but decided to wait and upgrade to four wheels on hearing that the vehicle would sell for just Rs100,000 ($2,055/£1,261). Others among the 203,000 people who placed orders included an 82-year-old former assistant commissioner of Mumbai police who used to ride a scooter and a market trader looking for an investment for his 12-year-old son. India's first female photo-journalist, Homi Vyarawalla, who is now in her mid-90s, has also bid for a car. Ratan Tata launched the Nano in March, predicting the no-frills vehicle would revolutionise travel for millions of Indians, getting the growing middle-class, urban population off motorcycles and into safer, affordable cars. Three versions of the sporty, jellybean-shaped Nano went on sale in April: the basic model and more expensive CX and LX versions, which have extra features like air-conditioning, automatic windows and central locking. The standard model sells for Rs140,000 ($2,874/£1,764) including tax in the showroom. The deluxe models cost up to Rs185,000 ($3,798/£2,332). Tata Motors' Pantnagar factory in northern India can produce up to 50,000 Nanos every year. Today’s Business Standard newspaper said the cars would still be made there even after a new, specially-built facility in Sanand, in Gujarat, opens by next year.
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