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2008-01-10 08:38

Tata Company Chairman Ratan Tata announces the newly-launched Tata Nano at the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi, India.

New Delhi - India's Tata on Thursday unveiled what it has billed as the world's cheapest car - a compact and no-frills family vehicle set to revolutionise the market of 1.1bn people.

The four-door five-seater car, due to hit the market later this year at just 100 000 rupees (R17 125), has a small 33Kw 624cc engine at the rear and is targeted at Indians hoping to trade up to four wheels from a motorcycle.

The Tata 'Nano' - which looks almost exactly like a Smart - has no air conditioning, no electric windows and no power steering for the basic model, although two deluxe models will be on offer.

But Ratan Tata, who heads the tea-to-steel group, compared the launch of the car as a landmark in the history of transportation like the first powered flight by the Wright brothers and the first lunar landing.

He said he wanted to make "a safe, affordable and all weather transport - a people's car, designed to meet all safety standards and emissions laws and accessible to all" and "a car that most people said could not be manufactured at that price."

He also dismissed fears the cheap car would herald more congestion and pollution, arguing the car would be better and far safer than most motorcycles on India's roads.

  • Tata SA told Wheels24 that it has not been advised about any plans to introduce the Nano locally.
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