World’s cheapest car hits Indian streets

MUMBAI, July 17, 2009 (AFP) – The world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano, hits the streets on Friday, as the first customer gets the keys to a vehicle that its makers hope will transform travel for millions of Indians. The head of Tata Motors, Ratan Tata, was to deliver the first car in person at a central Mumbai dealership, the company said. No details were immediately available about the recipient or the type of Nano being delivered.

But analysts said the delivery was a positive step, after a land dispute forced the firm off the site of a factory it was building to produce the cars in eastern India, fuelling concerns about its ability to meet demand on time.

“I think it’s very significant,” the associate editor of trade magazine Autocar Professional, Darius Lam, told AFP.

“They have been talking about delivering this car since last year and subsequently due to the problems they have had with moving the factory they have had to delay it by at least one year.

“It really shows that now they are getting their production in hand and are able to start delivering.”

Some 100,000 people were selected from a ballot to be the first recipients of the Nano, which reviewers have compared to the European Sm