17 Jul 2009

World's cheapest car hits the streets of India

9:38 pm on 17 July 2009

The world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano, has hit the streets in India.

The first customer has been handed the keys to the vehicle whose makers hope will transform travel for millions of Indians.

The head of Tata Motors, Ratan Tata, delivered the car in person to a central Mumbai dealership.

About 100,000 people were selected from a ballot to be the first recipients of the sporty, jellybean-shaped car.

They include a roadside cobbler from Mumbai, who had been saving for seven years to buy a two-wheeler until he heard about the Nano.

Tata Motors, part of the tea-to-steel Tata Group conglomerate, is India's top car-maker but like many car manufacturers has been hit by the global economic slowdown, which has cut demand for trucks and cars.

Last month it posted its first consolidated full-year net loss in eight years.

The standard Nano sells for 140,000 rupees or $NZ4468; the deluxe models cost nearly $6000.