Friday, April 10, 2009

Small car draws long queues as bookings start for Tata Nano

Tata Motors showrooms across the country witnessed heavy footfalls Thursday as thousands of people queued for application forms to book their much-sought Nano, the jellybean-shaped small car.

Delhi, which has over 15 Tata Motors outlets, witnessed more than 7,000 eager customers rushing to book the "people's car" at the opening of the 17-day booking period.

A-One Motors, a dealership on Barakhamba Road in the heart of the national capital, alone saw more than 1,200 people. More than 1,000 forms, each costing Rs.300, were sold.

Over the next 16 days, interested buyers can apply with an upfront payment of around Rs.95,000, or Rs.2,999 if they wish to get the car financed. Direct financing has been made available through 18 participating banks at 9-14.25 percent interest.

The car can also be booked online through the net banking gateway of over 28 banks. The online form will cost Rs.200.

But that alone will not assure them a Nano, which the $62.5-billion Tata group chairman Ratan Tata had promised to deliver for Rs.100,000 at factory gates.

A lottery will decide the lucky 100,000 who will drive out the Nano in the first phase - the result of a Rs.20-billion investment, and five years of research and development by a 500-member team, which even fetched them 34 patents.

The list of those allotted the car will be made public 60 days after the booking closes.

Tata Motors officials said over 50,000 forms have been sold across India before the booking date and the numbers were likely to multiply over the the next two weeks.

"We have had more than 300 people visiting our showroom since morning today (Thursday) and have sold about 200 forms," said Rajesh Deswal, a sales representative at A-One Motors' Moti Nagar outlet in west Delhi.

Among those who booked the Rs.100,000 ($2,000) car was noted filmmaker Muzaffar Ali, who sought financing through State Bank of India (SBI) and filled the form at midnight in Lucknow.

"We were prepared ever since the booking date was announced and had made all preparations to meet the rush," SBI chief general manager Shiv Kumar said.

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