March 23, 2009 will go down in time as a day when history was recreated for the global automobile industry; after all, it was the day the Tata Nano – the world’s cheapest car, was commercially launched. A full 100 years from the time Henry Ford launched his unprecedented Model T, the Tata Nano comes as a ray of hope to millions of Indians who have for years harbored the dream of cheap and comfortable transportation for themselves and their families. And at 100,000 Indian Rupees, which is roughly the equivalent of $2,000, cheap it really is. Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Motors, who had been making promises since 2003 to the Indian public at large about a â€˜People’s Car’ that he and his team would be coming out with, lived up to his promise on January 10, 2008, by unveiling the Tata Nano, at the Auto Expo in New Delhi, India. It has been more than a year since then, and after many teething troubles particularly over land on which the Nano was to be built – in a place called Singur in the East Indian state of West Bengal, which eventually got shelved in favor of a more promising location in the Western Indian state of Gujarat called Sanand, Tata Motors has managed to overcome all the odds.
Many may question the quality of the vehicle at the given price, but a careful look at all the features of the car clearly shows that Ratan Tata and his gutsy team at Tata Motors have compromised on only one key element and that is the price, and nothing else. Be it safety or emission levels, they have indeed maintained global standards with this car. After all, it is not for nothing that a European version of the car – the Tata Nano Europa, is on the anvil, which should see the light of dawn by the year 2011, with enhanced safety and other features.
Bookings for the Tata Nano would be open between April 9 to April 25, after which lots would be drawn, and cars would be allotted to 100,000 lucky applicants picked up randomly through a computerized mechanism. In an unprecedented move, even the Application Form for the booking of the Tata Nano will come at a price – Rs. 200/- (approx. $4) when booked online on the Tata Nano/Tata Motors website, and Rs. 300/- (approx. $6) when booked offline through any of the various booking counters set up by the company. Apparently, this has been done to keep a tab on the initial number of applicants. Additionally, the booking amount of the Tata Nano has been kept reasonably high – almost as much as that of the car itself, as per the particular variant in question. Of course, Tata has ensured availability of adequate financiers to ensure that successful applicants do not have a problem in paying the booking amount.
Summing up, one can safely say that the Nano rightfully deserves all the media attention that it is garnering for itself, globally, since its launch. The Nano is indeed a befitting tribute to the old time adage that good things come in small packages, and the Nano is probably the biggest achievement of its kind, in many, many years.