Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata on Thursday unveiled the Tata Nano at the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi.
Details of the People's Car:
Ratan Tata, while unveiling the nano, said: "The car will meet all current safety norms and all emission criteria. The pollution it will cause will be lower than 2-wheelers."
The car, Tata said, is smaller than a Maruti, but has 21 per cent more volume or space inside than the 800. He said that the dealer price of the car will be Rs 1 lakh, plus value-added tax (VAT) plus transport charges.
The car will have a 624-cc petrol engine generating 33 bhp of power. It will sport a 30-litre fuel tank and 4-speed manual gearshift. The car will come with air conditioning, but will have no power steering. It will have front disk and rear drum brakes. The company claims mileage of 23 km per litre.
The car's dashboard features just a speedometer, fuel gauge, and oil light. The car does not have reclining seats or radio. The shock absorbers are basic.
Nano, the world's cheapest car, costs almost half of the cheapest car currently available anywhere in the world.
''Since, a promise is a promise the standard dealer version will cost Rs 1 lakh,'' said Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata.
He informed that the car is 8 per cent smaller bumper to bumper, than the Maruti800 but at the same time 21 per cent larger in its interiors and can sit up to four people.
Dispelling myths that the car was not safe enough Tata said, 'The car has passed the full-frontal crash and the side impact crash''. He also side stepped emission concerns and said the car will meet Euro IV norms.
While critics had been sceptical throughout about the car meeting safety and emission norms, coming as it is at that price, Tata said he was happy to announce that Nano meets all norms as would a modern car.
The car is eight per cent shorter than Maruti 800 on bumper to bumper length, but is 21 per cent more spacious, claimed Tata.
Alluding to fears expressed by environmentalist R K Pachauri and green activist Sunita Narain that the car at that price would add more vehicles on the road leading to higher vehicular pollution, Tata said the 624 cc, 33 HP petrol engine meets Bharat Stage-III emission norms and can also meet the Euro 4 norms.
"Pachauri will not have a nightmare and Sunita Narain can also sleep," he quipped, while recalling that some people had suggested that the car should be called 'Pachauri' and some others said that it should be named 'Mamta' probably referring to the position TMC leader Mamta Banerjee had taken against the setting up of the small-car project at Singur in West Bengal.
Commenting on the safety standard, he said the car has gone through a full frontal crash test as per norms.
The Nano will come in three variants -- standard and two deluxe models with AC. The standard car would be available for Rs 1 lakh (ex-showroom), while VAT and transportation costs are extra.
The Nano is expected to be commerically launched in the second half of 2008. News reports say that Tata Motors hopes to sell 500,000 units of the car, almost four times the number of Indicas it sells. Tata plans to focus on a market segment hitherto untapped.
Not since the launch of the Maruti 800 in 1983 has any car gripped the imagination of a nation and indeed car manufacturers the world over so intensely. If commercially successful, the Tata Nano can alter the passenger car market in India, and perhaps the world, beyond description.
Text: K Krishnakumar | Photographs: Rajesh Karkera