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tato
Image courtesy of B Balaji

World’s cheapest car to hit the roads

by Bidhata Rai

Tata Nano, the cutting-edge passenger car is finally here and will be available in July, a year and a half after it was first presented at the Delhi Auto Expo on January 2008.

The 3-metre long, five-seater car will cost 100,000 Indian rupees ($1,979; £1,366), making it the cheapest car on the market.

Tata, a company best known for its elephantine Lorries, spent five years to develop this concept with input from countries including Italy and Germany. But it was designed and made in India.

Men behind the machine

A team of 500 engineers brainstormed to produce the cheapest car at a plant in West Bengal.

Tata cut costs by minimising components and taking advantage of India’s low production costs. It also boasts of being the least polluting car in India.

“We shrunk it, made the engine smaller and used fewer materials but we haven’t taken any shortcuts in term of safety or emissions,” told the company’s chairman, Ratan Tata to Times Online.

The car will be sold first in India, with an initial annual production of 250,000 units. But it is expected to enter the Latin American, South East Asian and African markets later on.

"I think we are at the gates of offering a new form of transport to the people of India and later, I hope, other markets elsewhere in the world," said Mr Tata to the BBC.

"I hope it will provide safe, affordable four-wheel transportation to families who till now have not been able to afford a car."

A European version, the Nano Europa is due to follow in 2011 and is expected to cost around to £4,000.

Recession effects

According to analysts, Tata might not be able to meet the high demand if Nano gains instant success, since the main factory in Gujarat is still under construction.

With last year’s increase in the number of motorcycle users, Tata predicts a huge marketplace for the Nano.

Tata has also been a victim of the recession. According to the BBC, the firm lost 2.6 billion rupees in the three months from October to December last year.

The company is struggling to refinance the £2 billion balance on a £3 billion loan it took out to buy Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford in June last year.

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