Click above for a high-res image gallery of the Tata Nano

It's been a long time in the making, but the official launch of the Tata Nano has finally taken place. Billed as the World's Cheapest Car, the diminutive Nano will sell for just Rs. 1 lakh (about $2,000 U.S.) as it leaves the factory, though shipping, taxes and registration adds a considerable amount to that total. Still, there's a great deal of anticipation for the little car in its home market of India.

In base trim, the Tata Nano comes in just three colors without a radio or air conditioning, although higher-spec versions are available that include more color choices, along with such niceties as central locking, front power windows, fog lamps, a cup holder, and even a rear spoiler.

While it may be short on amenities, the real intent of the Nano is to get Indian families off their two-wheelers and inside the relative comfort and safety of a proper automobile. As such, the 33-horsepower, 623cc two-cylinder engine and four-speed gearbox is reportedly powerful enough to get the Nano to Indian highway speeds, and the car meets all required safety and emissions requirements. It also comes standard with an 18-month/24,000 kilometer warranty.

Due to the huge demand expected for the car, the automaker has created a special process for reservations. A computer will randomly choose the first 100,000 customers that will have the opportunity to purchase a new Nano. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in July, but in the meantime, Nano-intenders will soon be able to accessorize their life with appropriate accoutrements, including a Nano phone, wristwatch, and t-shirts. Official press release available after the jump. Thanks to all who sent this in!


Related GalleryTata Nano

[Source: Tata Motors]


PRESS RELEASE:

THE TATA NANO ARRIVES

Mumbai, March 23, 2009: Tata Motors today announced the commercial launch of the Tata Nano, keenly awaited across India since its unveiling on January 10, 2008. The Tata Nano is BS-III* compliant and comes with an all-new 2-cylinder aluminium MPFI 624 cc petrol engine mated to a four-speed gear box and will be available in three variants. The cars will be on display across the country at Tata Motors Passenger Car dealerships and other select authorised outlets from April 1st.

Speaking at a Press Conference, the Chairman of Tata Sons and Tata Motors, Mr. Ratan N. Tata, said, "The Nano represents the spirit of breaking conventional barriers. From the drawing board to its commercial launch, the concept, development and productionisation of the car has overcome several challenges. It is to the credit of the team at Tata Motors that a car once thought impossible by the world is now a reality. I hope it will provide safe, affordable, four-wheel transportation to families who till now have not been able to own a car. We are delighted in presenting the Tata Nano to India and the world."

The Tata Nano is currently being manufactured at the company's Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand in limited numbers. The new dedicated plant, at Sanand in Gujarat, will be ready in 2010 with an annualised capacity of 350,000 cars.

THE THREE VARIANTS

The Tata Nano offers an incredibly spacious passenger compartment which can comfortably seat four adults. With a length of just 3.1 metres, width of 1.5 metres and height of 1.6 metres, the Tata Nano has the smallest exterior footprint for a car in India but is 21% more spacious than the smallest car available today. A high seating position makes ingress and egress easy. Its small size coupled with a turning radius of just 4 metres, makes it extremely manoeuvrable in the smallest of parking slots.

The three trim levels and their key features available at launch are:

Tata Nano Standard (BSII* and BSIII*): The standard version, in three colour options, single-tone seats, and fold-down rear seat;

Tata Nano CX (BSII* and BSIII*): In five colour options, with heating and air-conditioning (HVAC), two-tone seats, parcel shelf, booster-assisted brakes, fold-down rear seat with nap rest;

Tata Nano LX (BSIII*): With the features of CX plus complete fabric seats, central locking, front power windows, body coloured exteriors in three premium colours, fog lamps, electronic trip meter, cup holder in front console, mobile charger point, and rear spoiler. Many of these features are not available on current entry-level small cars in the country.

PERFORMANCE & SPECIFICATIONS

Performance: The 2-cylinder engine – delivering 35 PS @ 5250 rpm and a torque of 48 Nm @ 3000 rpm – enables the car to have a top speed of 105 kmph and negotiate inclines with a gradeability of 30%.

Fuel efficiency: 23.6 km/litre, certified by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) under mandated test conditions, which is the highest for any petrol car in India.

Emission: The high fuel efficiency, coupled with a low kerb weight of 600 kg, ensures that the Tata Nano – at 101 gm / km – has the lowest CO2 emission amongst cars in India. The Tata Nano is BS-III* compliant and is BS-IV* ready. It is also available in BS-II* norms.

Safety: The Tata Nano's safety performance exceeds current regulatory requirements – it passes the roll-over test and offset impact, which are not regulated in India. It has an all sheet-metal body, reinforced passenger compartment, crumple zones, intrusion-resistant doors, besides mandatory seat belts and complies fully with existing Indian safety standards. Tubeless tyres – among which the rear ones are wider endowing extra stability – enhance safety.

Warranty: 18 months or 24,000 km, whichever is earlier.

THE BOOKING PROCESS

In view of the expected significant demand and limited production capacity initially until the Sanand plant is fully ramped up to capacity, the Tata Nano will be available through a booking mode.

Tata Motors has entered into an exclusive agreement with the State Bank of India to manage the booking process.

The sale of application forms and acceptance of booking will start from April 9th 2009 till the end of day April 25th 2009. The application forms will be available at a price of Rs. 300, with a range of offers from select associate Tata Group companies. The application forms will be available at over 30,000 locations in about 1,000 cities through Tata Motors Passenger Car dealerships, State Bank of India and its branches, its subsidiaries and associates, other preferred financiers, and outlets of Westside, Croma, 'World of Titan' and Tata Indicom exclusive stores.

After collecting the forms, customers have two options. They can either pay the entire booking amount themselves or seek financing of the booking amount.

For those who seek financing, Tata Motors has entered into agreements with 15 preferred banks/NBFCs for the Tata Nano booking loan product. The booking product offered by these banks will enable a Tata Nano to be booked by paying an amount starting Rs. 2999/- only. Their chosen financier will directly submit their application forms to the State Bank of India on their behalf.

Those, who choose to themselves pay their entire booking amount, can submit their application forms to State Bank of India through 1,350 notified branches in 850 cites, and also at Tata Motors Passenger Car dealerships, Westside and Croma outlets. Option to submit bookings online is available at www.tatanano.com.

Within 60 days of the closure of bookings, Tata Motors will process and announce the allotment of 100,000 cars in the first phase of deliveries, through a computerised random selection procedure. These 100,000 allotments will be price protected for the launch prices till delivery of the cars but the booking amounts will not bear any interest for the customers. Deliveries will commence from July 2009.

Applicants have the option to retain their booking deposit, even if they do not get allotment in the first phase. Those who choose this option will be eligible for interest on their deposit, effective from the date of announcement of allotment of the second phase, at a rate of 8.5% for retention period between one year to two year and 8.75% for a retention period of more than 2 years. Allotment of retainees will be simultaneously communicated, along with the allotment of the first 100,000 cars.

PREFERRED FINANCIERS

Tata Motors has entered into agreements with 15 preferred banks/NBFCs for the Tata Nano booking loan product. The preferred financial institutions are: State Bank of India, Tata Motor Finance, State Bank of Patiala, ICICI Bank, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Indore, Axis Bank, Punjab National Bank, Federal Bank, Corporation Bank, Indian Bank, and the Central Bank of India. The updated list and details are available at www.tatanano.com .

MERCHANDISE AND ACCESSORIES

The Tata Nano comes with an attractive range of accessories and merchandise. The range of merchandise includes a Nano phone, Nano watch, T-Shirts, etc. and will be made available online at www.tatanano.com as well at all Tata Motors Passenger Car dealerships, Westside & Croma outlets. Tata Indicom will also market the Nano phone and Titan the Nano watch.

Accessories include alloy wheels, body kits, decals etc., to customise the Tata Nano to individual tastes. Details are available at www.tatanano.com .

About Tata Motors

Tata Motors is India's largest automobile company, with revenues of US$ 8.8 billion in 2007-08. Through subsidiaries and associate companies, Tata Motors has operations in the UK, South Korea, Thailand and Spain, besides India. Among them are Jaguar Land Rover, and an industrial joint venture with Fiat in India. With over 4 million Tata vehicles plying in India, Tata Motors is the country's market leader in commercial vehicles and among the top three in passenger vehicles. It is also the world's fourth largest truck manufacturer and the second largest bus manufacturer. Tata cars, buses and trucks are being marketed in several countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, South East Asia and South America. (www.tatamotors.com )

*Note to editors: BS II, BS III and BS IV are the India mandatory norms for Nitrogen Oxides, Hydrocarbons, Carbon Monoxide and particulates. These norms are substantially aligned with the European norms Euro II, Euro III and Euro IV; the main difference is that the peak speed in the extra urban driving cycle is 90 km/h in India and 120 km/h in Europe.

(For free broadcast-standard and streaming quality video content about Tata Motors, please log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/tatamotors. You can preview and request broadcast-standard video which will be delivered digitally, DVD or by tape. Registration and video is free to the media.)