Bookings for Tata Nano begin Thursday

April 8th, 2009 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Tata Motors were set to accept the application forms for the world’s cheapest car, the 624-cc jelly-bean shaped Nano, from Thursday in what will be the steepest booking fee charged in India for an automobile.
Over the next 17 days, prospective buyers can buy application forms for Rs.300 each and apply with an upfront payment of around Rs.95,000 - or Rs.2,999, if they wish to get it financed, company officials said.

That alone will not assure them the car, which group chairman Ratan Tata had promised to deliver at Rs.100,000 ($2,000) at factory gates - and which he had managed to keep amid awe and admiration of the global automobile industry.

The company, which had to shift its upcoming Nano factory out of Singur in West Bengal last October after some protests over farmland acquired by the state government for the project, has earmarked just 100,000 vehicles for the first phase.

So a lottery will decide the lucky ones who will drive out the Nano - the result of a Rs.20-billion investment, and five years of research and development by a 500-member team, which even fetched them 34 patents.

“We have already sold 50,000 forms at our dealerships. This figure does not include the sale at our Westside apparel stores and Croma appliance outlets,” said an official with Tata Motors in Mumbai.

“State Bank of India will begin the sale of forms from tomorrow,” the official said, adding some 1,350 branches of the commercial bank in 850 cities would assist the booking process.

“We have sold some 500 forms at our three showrooms in Delhi and the figure is likely to go up next week as the submission process begins to hot up,” said Ravi Bhattacharya, Nano sales manager with Autolink Delhi.

He said that ever since the car was commercially launched, his outlets received at least 100-200 unique enquiries daily. His firm has decided to deploy additional salespeople to handle the expected rush for the bookings.

Tata Motors - part of India’s largest industrial house, the $62.5-billion Tata group - also has on offer online bookings for the Nano, the first such option in India. An online application will cost Rs.200.

Along with the provision to retail co-branded Nano merchandise such as watches, T-shirts and phones on the Internet, the dedicated website for the “people’s car” has a section to apply online, with a secure payments gateway.

Bhattacharya said most customers were looking at getting their Nano financed. “Majority of the clientele is wary of the huge booking amount and is hence enquiring about the financing options available for the car.”

Tatas have also tied up with 15 national banks such as Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Bank of India and Dena Bank to facilitate the easy disbursement of loans for its vehicles.

Winners from the draw of lots would be announced 60 days after the bookings close April 25 and customers can drive the Nano out of showrooms from July.

The first set of cars is being manufactured at Pantnagar in Uttarakhand and Pune in Maharashtra.

Eventually, it will roll out from the new project site at Sanand in Gujarat, some 45 km from the state’s commercial capital Ahmedabad. This site will initially produce 250,000 cars, going up to 500,000 units by the end of next year.

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