Bookings for Tata Motors' (TAMO.BO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Nano got off to a brisk start in Mumbai on Thursday, with a steady stream of prospective customers queuing up to be one of the first to own what is billed as the world's cheapest car.
The profile of customers was varied from first-time buyers to those already owning more than two cars. Their reasons for buying also varied: curiosity value, love of cars, affordability and ease of maneuverability on India's crowded roads.
In some cases children were looking to buy the car for their elderly parents, some of whom had never owned a car before.
But they couldn't actually drive away on Thursday. Rather, they were putting in an application to be among the first 100,00 owners, an order block that is expected to take more than a year to fill.
Sixty-three year-old Vijay Jadav, a retired government employee, wants to buy a Nano to add to the Tata Indigo sedan he already owns.
It's cheap, it's small and it's good for short journeys for a small family like ours, said the head of the family of four from Alibaug, about 150 kilometers south of Mumbai.
Elavia H.M., 67, has never owned a car before and wants to buy the Nano for her son, who commutes to work in a taxi now. It is so cheap and ...it looks comfortable, she said.
The Nano, at 3.09 meters in length, is smaller than the Maruti 800 but is 21 percent more spacious. It gets 23.6 kilometers to a liter of fuel, and its small turning radius of just 4 meters makes it easy to handle, especially in small parking lots and on narrow roads.
I have experienced other foreign small cars, they are expensive to maintain and consume a lot of fuel. But look at Nano's mileage and we know Tata cars are cheaper on maintenance, said Denis Quadros, 42, who owns a Maruti Wagon R.
This year and next will see a host of small cars being launched in India, starting with Honda's (7267.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Jazz later this year and General Motors (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) small compact car, scheduled to be launched toward the middle of the year.
Volkswagen (VOWG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Ford (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Skoda are also planning to launch small cars for the Indian market starting in 2010.
Shares in Tata Motors were trading up 1.6 percent, having earlier hit their highest in almost six months.
(Editing by Lincoln Feast)