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Little Nano makes big splash in US media

The launch of India's small car Tata Nano made big news in the United States with top publications from Time magazine to the New York Times giving the story a big splash. "After a series of setbacks, Tata Motors announces that its much-anticipated Nano is ready," said the CNN listing its story "World's cheapest car ... again" as "Today's top video."

business Updated: Mar 24, 2009 15:46 IST

The launch of India's small car Tata Nano made big news in the United States with top publications from Time magazine to the New York Times giving the story a big splash.

"After a series of setbacks, Tata Motors announces that its much-anticipated Nano is ready," said the CNN listing its story "World's cheapest car ... again" as "Today's top video."

In a longish article titled "The World's Cheapest Car Debuts in India", Time magazine related the story of "a six-year quest by Tata Motors, India's largest automaker, to develop a car for the common man costing less than Rs 100,000 (about $2,000), roughly the same price as a motorcycle."

"The company has proven the doubters wrong," it said, noting that in a March 5 interview with Time, company chairman Ratan Tata downplayed the tough market conditions and the impact that sagging consumer demand could have on Nano sales.

"If I had conceived a million-dollar supercar today, I think you'd have every reason to question whether that's the right product at the right time in the planet that we are living in today," Tata was quoted as saying.

The Nano, he argues, is the right car for this difficult time. "What has happened in the changing economic situation globally reinforces, if nothing else, the fact that a low-cost car has a place."

The New York Times in its "Wheels - The Nuts and Bolts of Whatever Moves You" column said: "The Nano has been nicknamed 'The People's Car' because its starting price will make it accessible to more Indians than any other new car on the market."

"The official launch of the tiny four-door car, however, was hardly lacking in pomp and ceremony," it said, describing a "more elaborate outdoor press conference held on the grounds of the Parsi Gymkhana" as an "on over-the-top send off for a car defined by prudence and economy."

"Huge video monitors and a 40-foot tall sphere projected images of the Nano, along with a voice-over comparing the car's introduction to the scaling of Mount Everest, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb," it said.

The Washington Post carried a news agency story noting the Tata Motors Nano, the world's cheapest car at around $2,000, will hit Indian roads in July and, with demand set to far outstrip supply, the first 100,000 owners will be picked at random.