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Small Nano attracts really big numbers

Hall No11 at the Auto Expo 2008 is the first halt to see the little wonder which has raised aspirations of millions.

autos Updated: Jan 13, 2008 17:03 IST

For the 200,000 visitors at the Auto Expo 2008 in the Capital on Sunday, Hall Number 11 is invariably the first halt, to see the little Tata Nano that has raised aspirations of millions who now see themselves soon owning a car.

With a snub nose, a sloping roof and just about room for five to squeeze in, the world's cheapest car at the Tata Motors Pavilion at Pragati Maidan in the Capital has got everything which people could possibly ask for in a car at the price of just Rs.100,000 ($2,500).

Nano, according to industry research organisation Crisil, may bring 65 per cent more families into the ambit of those who can now afford a car.

"It is a record for the Auto Expo. On Saturday, it was 160,000 and by 12 pm the figure hit the 180,000-mark just within 2 hours," said Gurpal Singh, deputy director general of industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), one of the organisers of the show.

The pavilion had to be closed for almost 2 hours to control the rush. "The crowd is anything but nano," said a Tata official.

The Indian Trade Promotion Organisation has asked CII to shift one exhibit of the Nano to the Lal Chowk theatre, which will make it easier for the organisers to tackle the crowd.

The Tata team has in fact doubled the temporary staff at their pavilion for the Sunday rush. They have also put up emergency units outside the pavilion.

It's almost the same story at the CII information booths. "The query begins and ends with the Nano," said an executive.

But it is not just Delhiites who are thronging the venue. A huge number of tourists, including many first timers, have changed their tour schedule to catch a glimpse of the Tata car.

"I don't care about the car necessarily but I wanted to take a moment and celebrate the awesomeness that is the word 'lakh'. It means 100,000 and it is what Indians use to express a big number the way we use million," said American Keetsa Mattress who managed to squeeze her way through to crowd to the Nano turntable.

And many like South Korean Jimmy Yep agreed Nano would change the way the world looks at developing countries.

"The Tata Nano is a microcosm and instructive example of the very real growth and poverty problems facing India and China and the reaction of environmentalists who want to restrict their growth in the name of global warming," he said.

The response to Tata's small wonder is mega but its actual test will be once it is out on the roads to be experienced by the common man.

As Tata put it, "The final judgment will be made by the consumer. Let's wait and let them decide."