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First Nano to hit the roads today

autos Updated: Jul 17, 2009 02:06 IST
Suprotip Ghosh

Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata will hand over the keys to the first customer of the Tata Nano to hit roads commercially on Friday.

The first ‘one-lakh car’ will be handed over in Mumbai, after which deliveries would start at various centres.

From 2003, when Ratan Tata first spoke about the then unnamed car, to its launch in 2008 and finally its delivery in 2009, the Nano’s journey has been highly eventful.

The car was first showcased at the Delhi Auto Expo in 2008. At that time, the Tatas had announced that the car would be manufactured at a plant in Singur, West Bengal.

The plant ran into stiff opposition regarding land acquisition and compensation. This led to confrontations between Ratan Tata, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and the West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacarya. The impasse continued for more than a year, and in late September 2008, Ratan Tata announced that he would be pulling the factory out of West Bengal. It was later relocated to Sanand, Gujarat.

At present, the car is rolled out from its Pantnagar facility, which has an annual capacity of 50,000 units.

After keeping the bookings open for about a month, Tata Motors claimed in June a total of 2.05 lakh bookings since its official launch on May 23, 2009. Bookings were open for about a month in June.

The drawing board to road journey for the Nano has been difficult. In its initial days, there was much controversy about the car around Ratan Tata’s vision and the possibility of literally tens of lakhs of Nanos clogging streets. There were concerns about the environment and naysayers that had said it was impossible to sell a full-blown car at Rs 1 lakh.

In the first lot over 1.55 lakh cars would be delivered and the first one lakh will be sold at the announcement price of Rs 1 lakh, making it the cheapest four-wheels in the world.

The company intends to deliver the first one lakh cars by March 2010. The Nano has a 623-cc rear-engine car and a fuel economy of over 23 km per litre, has cost over Rs 2,000 crore to build.