Tata launches lottery for Nano buyers

Tata Motors will sell the first 100,000 of its ultra-cheap Nano through a lottery, the Indian automaker said today.

Application forms for the 100,000 rupee ($1,980 1,455 euros) minicar will available in 1,000 cities in India starting on April 9. A computerized random selection procedure will decide the owners of the first 100,000 cars, Tata said.

Tata decided to launch a lottery because of the massive interest in the Nano and because of delays in launching volume production of the car.

Since the Nano was unveiled on January 10, 2008, Tata's Web site for the Nano has received 30 million hits.

At the Nano's commercial launch in Mumbai, India, today, Tata Chairman Ratan Tata said the Nano will provide safe, affordable, four-wheel transportation to families who currently cannot afford to own a car.

Nano deliveries will start in July, Tata said. The four-door, five-seat Nano will be sold in India in three trim levels: standard, CX and LX. The top-of-the-range LX will have fabric seats, central door locking, front power windows, a cell phone charger point and a rear spoiler.

Tata also said the Nano would come with a range of accessories and merchandise. The company said accessories will include alloy wheels and body kits will also be available to customize the car.

Among the merchandise planned are a Nano phone and a Nano watch.

The 3100mm long Nano has a 35hp, 624cc two-cylinder rear engine with a top speed of 105kph. It can travel 23.6km on a liter of gasoline.

The Nano is vital to Tata, which is struggling with the global economic downturn. The company declared a loss of 2.63 billion rupees ($37 million) for the October to December quarter.
Tata has been struggling to refinance the remaining $2 billion of a $3 billion loan it took to buy the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co. in June.

In addition, the Nano launch is six months late after large-scale production was delayed by a compensation dispute with West Bengal farmers that shifted production from West Bengal to Gujarat last year.

As a stopgap arrangement, Nanos will be rolled out from Tata's existing car factories in Pune in western India and Pantnagar in Northern India.

A European version called the Nano Europa is planned for 2011.

A new Nano plant, at Sanand in Gujarat, western India, will be ready in 2010 with an annual capacity of 350,000 cars.

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