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The Tata Nano is a city car manufactured by Tata Motors. Made and sold in India, the Nano was initially launched with a price of one lakh rupees or ₹100,000 (US$1,500), which has increased with time. Designed to lure India’s burgeoning middle classes away from two-wheelers, it received much publicity.
Its current price point means the claim “world’s cheapest car” remains true today.
After having successfully launched the low cost Tata Ace truck in 2005, Tata Motors began development of an affordable car that would appeal to the many Indians who ride motorcycles. The purchase price of this no frillsauto was brought down by dispensing with most nonessential features, reducing the amount of steel used in its construction, and relying on low cost Indian labour.
The introduction of the Nano received much media attention due to its low price.
Expectations created for the car during the run up to its production may have been out of proportion with its realised success. A 2008 study, by Indian rating agency CRISIL, thought the Nano would expand the nation’s car market by 65%, but, as of late 2012, news reports have detailed the underwhelming response of the Indian consumer to the offering; sales in the first two fiscal years after the car’s unveiling remained steady at about 70,000 units although Tata appears intent on maintaining a capacity to produce the car in much larger quantities, some 250,000 per year, should the need arise.
It was anticipated that its 2009 debut would greatly affect the used car market, and prices did drop 25–30% prior to the launch. Sales of the Nano’s nearest competitor, the Maruti 800, fell by 20% immediately following the unveiling of the Nano. It is unknown if the Nano has had a lasting effect on the prices of and demand for close substitutes, however. In July 2012, Tata’s Group chairman Ratan Tata, who retired in January 2014, said that the car had immense potential in the developing world while admitting that early opportunities were wasted due to initial problems.