Tata Scores Big with Small Nano

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MUMBAI, INDIA (May 5, 2009 — More than 203,000 people have bought the ultra-cheap Nano car in India yielding sales of 25 billion rupees ($512.6 million), Tata Motors said.

“Tata Motors places on record its gratitude to the people of India for according such a warm welcome to the Tata Nano,” the company said in a statement Monday night.

The sales are significant in a country where just 1.5 million passenger cars were sold last fiscal year.

Due to production constraints, the Nano was only for sale from April 9 to April 25.

The Nano was meant to herald a revolution in transport for the world’s poor, putting cars within reach of many first-time buyers.

But Tata said only 20 percent of customers opted for the cheapest version of the car, which retails for 100,000 rupees ($2,050) plus tax and transport costs.

Half of the orders were for the most deluxe version of the car, which comes with air conditioning and power windows, and the remaining 30 percent for a mid-range model.

The Tata Nano Web site got an unprecedented 30 million hits between March 23 and April 25, Tata Motors said. About 1.4 million people went to see the car at Tata stores.

Production constraints complicated the sales process. Violent farmer protests forced Tata to relocate at the last minute a factory that was to exclusively build Nanos, and the replacement won’t be operational before year’s end.

That means the company will only be able to deliver 100,000 cars from July through the end of 2010. Tata Motors will randomly select 100,000 people to get the first shipment of Nanos.

Analysts say the Nano is unlikely to turn around the troubled finances of Tata Motors any time soon.

Tata Motors earned $8.8 billion in the year ended March 2008. It is still struggling to refinance $2 billion of the $3 billion loan it took out to purchase the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co. last year.

Courtesy of Erika Kinetz, the Gaea News