TATA honcho Irani says Nano has huge potential

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Washington, Nov.12 (ANI): The tiny Nano cars made by India's Tata Motors have been described by company director Jamshed J. Irani as having huge potential.

Even as analysts claim that the Nano could rock the international auto industry and put millions of new Indian drivers on the road, Irani told the Washington Post in an interview that while Tata is producing only about 100 units a day at present, it hopes to ramp up to about 1,000 vehicles a day next year.

He also said that Tata has started building low-cost homes, which the media has labelled as Nano homes.

Irani stopped by The Washington Post last week to talk about the 2,200 dollar basic model, billed as the world's cheapest car.

He said that at present the Nano was being distributed by lottery.

"We took a lot of deposits, but [because of the long waiting list] we said those who wanted their money back could get it because even in March 2011, we are not sure they will get the car," he said.

Irani also expressed confidence about the car not contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

"It might even reduce emissions. If I drive my Tata, my Mercedes will be parked. So, from an environmental point of view, pollution will be reduced because the consumption of fuel will be much less in the Nano. About 19 to 20 kilometers per liter," he said.

As far as target customers were concerned, Irani said: "We are looking at the segment between the two-wheeler just now and the cheapest car in India, which is three times the price of the Nano, which costs 2,200 dollars. That is the basic model. You can get air conditioning, power steering, with windows going up and down. The model with all the bells and whistles is 170,000 rupees [about 3,740 dollars]. Now Tata sells about 250,000 cars a year."

Expressing optimism about doubling Nano sales, he said: " Easily."

He also said that at present Tata had no plans to go abroad with the Nano.

"The Indian market we think is inexhaustible. If you take the Indian population, there are 1.3 billion. There are about three million cars -- not even one percent. . . . But in the middle class, there are 300 million people, and quite a few will graduate from two-wheelers to four-wheelers. The only restrictive fact is the roads. We have to make more roads to move the cars," he said.

He also said that foreign car manufacturers were still years away from making a car similar to the Nano. (ANI)

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