Tata Motors will launch the much awaited Nano, slated to be the world's cheapest car at less than $2 000, on Monday but it may be the middle of the year before it is seen on Indian roads.
The formal launch comes 15 months after the tiny, snub-nosed car debuted at a glittering world autoshow in Delhi, and is seen as an effort by the leading Indian vehicle maker to meet a deadline it had set to launch in the first quarter of 2009.
Bookings will only be taken from the second week of April, with delivery some time after that.
"It would take at least until July for the cars to be actually on the roads," a sales manager at Mumbai dealership Fortune Cars said.
The car was initially set to go on sale last October, but the main production plant had to be moved to Gujarat following land protests in West Bengal.
Only about 50 000 cars will be available in the first year, analysts say, until the 250 000-unit capacity in Gujarat comes on stream.
"We get a lot of enquiries, all wanting to know about the price, the variants available," said an official at Wasan Motors, another dealer.
Tata Motors has provided little details about the Nano to the dealers, but analysts say the cash-strapped company is likely to ask for a deposit of 70 000 rupees on booking.
"There has been a lot of hype created around the car," the manager at Fortune Cars said. "Some are genuine customers, others are just curious."