World’s cheapest car goes on sale

MUMBAI - The world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano, goes on sale from Thursday, with the company behind it and dealers confident of strong demand.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 9 Apr 2009, 8:36 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:30 AM

Bookings open for orders of the sporty, jellybean-shaped car at Tata Motors dealerships and retail outlets owned by the parent company Tata Group across the country.

A Tata Motors spokesman told AFP that some 51,000 booking forms had been sold by dealers since last weekend at 300 rupees (six dollars) each. “We are ready to kick-start operations,” he added.

Prospective buyers will also be able to book a car online for 200 rupees an application in the first such facility in India.

The Nano, which costs just 100,000 rupees (2,000 dollars) for the basic model, was unveiled to great fanfare last month, with Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata saying it would revolutionise travel for millions of Indians.

“We expect strong demand at most of our outlets,” said Dennis Rankine, sales manager at Wasan Motors, one of the top dealers for Tata Motors.

The cheapest showroom price for the Nano is 112,735 rupees but it is available for 100,000 rupees direct from the factory, excluding taxes.

Potential owners of the car—which is just over three metres (10 feet) long and has a top speed of 105 kilometres (65 miles) per hour—can apply for the car until April 25.

A number of Nanos went on display in showrooms around India on April 1, attracting curious onlookers eager to catch a glimpse of the much-talked about “People’s Car”.

To cope with the wide interest and supply shortages, the first 100,000 Nano owners are being selected by lottery, with the first car expected to be on the road in early July.

But a large number of customers may not get their shiny new Nanos until 2010, due to limited production from existing plants, the company has said.

The firm could sell just up to 50,000 Nano cars in the first year, which are to be rolled out of an existing plant while a new factory is built in western Gujarat state.

Tata Motors was forced to shift production from a nearly complete factory in eastern India to Gujarat state due to a violent land ownership dispute last year involving farmers in West Bengal.

Despite its expected popularity, analysts say the Nano will not make a big contribution—at least in the early years—to the company’s bottom line, with profit margins seen as slim in the fiercely competitive small car segment.

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