Nano, Tata Motors' Rs 1,00,000 "people's car" unveiled at the Auto Expo 2008 in New Delhi on Thursday will help the common man shift from two-wheelers to four-wheelers, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said.
"This is a proud moment for India. It demonstrates India's technological and entrepreneurial ability," Kamal Nath told reporters on Thursday.
"It fulfils the need of the common Indian who aspires to move from a two-wheeler to a four-wheeler," he added.
Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata spoke in a similar vein at a press conference immediately after unveiling the Nano.
"I have observed families riding on two-wheelers - the father driving the scooter, his young son standing in front of him, his wife seated behind him, holding a baby," he said.
"It made me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family," Tata added.
"Tata Motors' engineers and designers gave their all for about four years to realise this goal. Today, we indeed have a people's car that is affordable and meets safety and emission norms." Tata said.
"We are happy to present the people's car to India and we hope it brings the joy, pride and utility of owning a car to many families who need personal mobility," he added.
Jagidsh Khattar, the former chief of Maruti Udyog Limited that manufactures Maruti 800 that "Nano" is seen to target, said it was early days yet for this to happen.
"It's a good product but it's still too early to say whether it will overtake the (Maruti) 800 because it caters to a totally new market segment," he pointed out.
An official of Hyundai Motors that unveiled an LPG version of its Santro Thursday was more direct.
"We definitely see it as impacting on our sales," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Bajaj Auto head Rajiv Bajaj wondered about Nano's commercial viability and whether Tata Motors would be able to maintain the Rs 1,00,000 ($2,500) price tag.
"My scepticism about the Tata car is not about Tata's ability to put it together but to put it together at the price of Rs1,00,000. I still haven't heard them (the Tatas) say it will be profitable," Bajaj said.
The Tata car could "jam cities" and raise pollution, NGO Centre for Science and Environment said.
Pointing out that the average vehicle speed in the national capital had dropped, CSE said on its website: "As congestion builds up and vehicles slow down, emissions increase up to five times."
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