Indian Automaker Launches World's Lowest-Priced Car

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

This week the world's lowest-priced passenger car was launched in Mumbai, India. The Nano, made by Tata Motors, is expected to cause a transportation revolution for millions of Indian families.

The small four-door car is about three meters long. It will cost one hundred thousand Indian rupees, or two thousand dollars. That is about half the price of similar cars offered by the nearest competitor.  The Nano is expected to make car ownership possible for more of India's population. So it is being called "The People's Car."

Tata Motors chairman, Ratan Tata, says that was his main goal in building the Nano.

RATAN TATA:"It was never conceived of as being the cheapest car. It was conceived of as being a car that would give the people of India an opportunity to own a car that had not been within their reach before.  I hope that is what we will achieve."

The Nano is a very simple car.  The lowest-priced version does not include a radio or air conditioning. It has a six hundred twenty-four cubic centimeter, thirty-five horsepower, gas-powered engine.  Still, it is a welcomed vehicle in a country where many families of three or four people ride two-wheeled vehicles.

Industry observers predict that soon roads throughout the country could be filled with Nanos. Tata, India's top automaker, has done almost no traditional advertising of the Nano.  However, early interest in the vehicle has been huge.  The company says the Nano's Web site has been visited thirty million times.

Tata Motors says it will begin taking orders for the car on April ninth both at car dealerships and on the Internet.  However, the cars will not be ready for purchase until July.  Demand is expected to be far greater than supply.

Ratan Tata says the first one hundred thousand buyers of the car will be chosen by chance.

Production of the Nano has been delayed for several months.  Land protests last year forced the company to close its factory in the Indian state of West Bengal. A new factory is being built in the state of Gujarat.

The car is expected to be popular in industrial as well as developing nations. The company says it plans to sell a version of the Nano in Europe in two thousand eleven.  After that, the car will also be available in the United States.  Experts say demand for low-priced automobiles is likely to increase as the international economic crisis continues.

However, the Nano also has its critics.  Some say the new cars will increase India's traffic and pollution problems.  However, Tata company officials say the Nano will produce less pollution than any other car in the country.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are at voaspecialenglish.com.  I'm Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English

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