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rom drawing board to Singur and to Sanand before hitting the showrooms, it has been quite a journey for Tata Motors’ Nano, the world’s cheapest car. Here’s how the Rs one lakh car was born.

March 2003 : Ratan Tata discloses plans to launch the world’s cheapest car at Rs 1 lakh at Geneva Motor Show.

May 2006: Tata Motors announces setting up Nano manufacturing unit at Singur in West Bengal with initial investment of Rs 1000 crore spread over 700 acres; scaled up to 1,000 acres with total investment of Rs 1,500 crore.

Oct 2006 : Trinamool Congress opposes Tata Motors’ plans to set up factory at Singur, calls 12-hour state-wide bandh alleging forcible acquisition of farmers’ land.

Dec 2006: Violence mars Singur, five hurt in rubber- bullet firing. Mamata Banerjee goes on indefinite hunger strike, which was called off after 25 days following appeals from the Prime Minister and the President.

Jan 2007: Land puja offered at Singur car project site

Feb 2007: Police-mob clash at Singur.

Mar 2007: WBIDC signs a 90-year agreement with Tata Motors for Nano plant; farmer commits suicide; mob attacks proposed site; bomb explosion damages fencing

May 2007: Peace talks between state government and Trinamool Congress fail; one more farmer commits suicide

June 2007: CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu echoes Mamata Banerjee’s demand that only 600 acres is required for the Singur project instead of 1,000 acres, but state government rules out returning Singur project land to farmers

Nov 2007 : Central forces deployed at Singur after fresh protests

Jan 2008: Ratan Tata unveils Nano at Auto Expo in Delhi; Calcutta High Court orders Singur land acquisition legal

Mar 2008: Nano showcased at Geneva Motor Show

May 2008 : Supreme Court refuses to stay Nano roll-out from Singur

June 2008: Singur protesters break factory gate

Aug 2008: Talks between West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata Banerjee, who demanded return of 400 acres to farmers, fail. Subsequently, Ratan Tata threatens to exit from Singur. It was followed by Trinamool Congress’ indefinite dharna. Factory workers stay away from work after assault.

Sep 2008: WB Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi intervenes. Agreement signed between state government and Trinamool Congress but it is shortlived. Mamata Banerjee holds rally demanding return of 300 acres of land. Security guards at Singur factory attacked.

Oct 2008: Ratan Tata formally announces pulling out of Nano plant from Singur and days later declares Sanand at Gujarat as the new manufacturing location for Nano at an investment of Rs 2,000 crore

Feb 2009: Tata Motors announces launch date of Nano to be March 23.

Mar 2009: Ratan Tata unveils European version of Nano with added features and complying with Euro V emission norms at the Geneva Motor Show; Nano makes commercial debut.


Tata Motors will on Monday launch the “People’s Car”, the Nano, which it unveiled in January 2008 as the world’s cheapest car with a dealer price
of 100,000 rupees ($1,900).

Following are some details of the 4-door car, available in standard and deluxe versions:

Length: 3.1 metres

Height: 1.6 metres

Width: 1.5 metres

Engine: Rear-wheel drive, 2-cylinder, 623 cc, multi-point fuel-injection petrol engine, rear mounted. Tata said it is the first time a 2-cylinder gasoline engine is used in a car with single balancer shaft.

Safety: Has an all sheet-metal body, with crumple zones, intrusion-resistant doors, seat-belts, and rear tailgate glass bonded to the body. Tyres are tubeless.

Environment: Tailpipe emission performance beats current regulatory requirements, and the Nano has a lower overall pollution level than two-wheelers made in India, Tata has said. A high fuel efficiency (20 km/litre) ensures low carbon dioxide emissions.

The Team: In 2003, a four-member team at Tata’s Engineering Research Centre in Pune city started work on a “very low cost transportation with four wheels” and a price of 100,000 rupees. Helped by the Institute of Development in Automotive Engineering in Italy, the team grew to 500, headed by Girish Wagh.

Nano Europa: Will launch in some European markets by 2011:

Length: 3.29 metres; Width: 1.58 metres; Wheelbase: 2.28 metres. Engine: 3-cylinder, all-aluminium MPFI engine with 5-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering. Plus, advanced restraint systems, ABS, ESP and airbags.


Auto major Mahindra and Mahindra today said it could develop a vehicle on the lines of US President Barack Obama’s official car nicknamed ‘The Devil’ for the country’s political leadership if the necessary facilities existed here.

“I saw the diagram (of the car) and it had complete details of President Obama’s Cadillac limousine. If this facility exists then we would be proud to make such vehicle not just for the Prime Minister but for any VIP,” Mahindra Group Vice Chairman and Managing Director Anand Mahindra told reporters after inaugurating the Special Military Vehicles (SMV) plant in Faridabad near here.

Mahindra Defence Systems Chief Executive Brigadier (retd) Khutub Hai said the company had manufactured armoured Scorpios for VVIPs.

“Eight Chief Ministers in this country travel in armoured Scorpios. These armoured Scorpios are vehicles of choice as far as VVIPs are concerned,” Hai said.

He added that the company has exported five armoured Scorpios to Sri Lanka as part of the Presidential fleet there.

On the possibility of opening similar facilities in friendly neighbouring countries, Hai said: “We are reaching out to friendly neighbours. We will be looking at them. In 8-10 years, we can set up similar facilities there.”

“We are already looking at setting up similar facilities in some parts of Africa,” he added.


Ford India said troubles with its parent in US will not affect its planned $500 million investments for India, and added that the company’s small car would hit the market by early 2010 with localisation as high as 85% to keep the price competitive.

Michael Boneham, MD and president of Ford India, told TOI that the company’s expansion plans were going ahead “as scheduled”. The US auto major that posted a record $14.7 billion net loss in 2008 globally had announced the half-a-billion dollar investment for India last year to double annual production capacity to 2 lakh units and make 2.5 lakh petrol and diesel engines.

“The last six months have been tough for the auto industry… and we maintain a cautious outlook for the rest of 2009,” Boneham said, adding that he expected a turnaround only by 2010. “And this will be the time when we bring in our small car. Thus, we are confident it will get a good response,” he added.

The company is making efforts to ensure that its new small car, that is being designed and engineered for the Indian market, is attractively priced considering it faces tough competition from players like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Tata. “It will the first offering from Ford in the mass-market segment and we are making efforts to keep it cost-competitive while making it a great value proposition,” he said.


Carmaker Honda Siel Cars India on Thursday launched an advanced version of its premium sedan Accord with a 3.5 litre i-VTEC engine, priced between Rs 24.8 lakh and Rs 25.35 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

The new car would be available in two variants — Accord V6 3.5 and Accord V6 3.5 Inspire — and comply with Euro IV emission norms.

The company, however, expects that the demand for the old Accord would be higher than the new one.

“We expect the sales of earlier version of Accord with 2.4 litre engine in higher numbers than this new Accord,” Honda Siel Cars India (HSCI) Vice-President (Marketing) Jnaneswar Sen told reporters here.

The existing Accord comes with a 2.4 litre engine that generates 180 horsepower. The price of the car starts at Rs 16.72 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

The company, which is present in India through a joint venture with the Siel Group, claimed that the new Accord would give a mileage of 10 km per litre as per Automotive Research Association of India conditions.


Tata’s small car Nano may not be able to enter Europe due to stringent safety and emission norms, leading German luxury carmaker Audi said joining the list of auto players, who are sceptical about the prospects of the world’s cheapest car.

Nano has always elicited sharp reactions from rival carmakers, including Maruti Suzuki, about its compatibility with safety norms, which Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata has been challenging.

“Entering (by any model) the US and European market is very tough due to very stringent security and consumption regulations. Many Chinese carmaker had earlier tried to enter Europe, but could not as they faced problems,” Audi AG Member of the Board (Finance and Organisation) Axel Strotbek said here.

Asked if Nano could also face such difficulties in entering into Europe, he said: “Yes … I don’t think it will come here.”

Axel said that safety, fuel efficiency and emission norms are very important for the European customers, “which I am very apprehensive of getting in this price (Nano’s price)”.


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Celebrating its centenary year, German luxury carmaker Audi will launch over seven models, including hybrid and ‘zero-emission’ diesel vehicles, in the next two years, some of which could hit the Indian roads in future.

“This year is very particular for us as we have become 100 years old. Audi will double its worldwide product range to over 40 by 2015. And to start with, we will launch zero-emission SUV (sports utility vehicle) Q7 and sedan A4 this year in the US and Europe, respectively,” Audi Corporate Strategist Josef Schoen told PTI here.

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April 2020

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