Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 15:47 UK

First Nano owner gets keys to car

Nano cars being shipped into an Indian city
The launch of the car had to be put back by six months

The first owner of the world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano, has taken possession of his vehicle in the Indian city of Mumbai.

Ratan Tata, the head of Tata Motors which manufactures the car, handed over the keys to customs official Ashok Raghunath Vichare at a Tata showroom.

"I am happy to be the first customer. This is a common man's car," he said

Tata Motors says it has received more than 200,000 orders for the car which costs 100,000 rupees ($2,025).

Tata Motors believes the car will revolutionise travel for millions of people in India.

Some 200,000 people initially placed orders for the Nano. About half of these were selected from a ballot to be the first recipients of the Nano.

Among them, reports say, are a roadside cobbler from Mumbai, a 82-year-old former police officer, and India's first female photo journalist, Homi Vyarawalla, who is in her 90s.

Delivery delays

Analysts say that if the car proves an immediate hit in its home market, Tata may struggle to meet demand.

This is because the main Nano factory in the western state of Gujarat, which will be able to build 250,000 cars a year, is not due to open until next year.

Delays arose when Tata had to abandon plans to build the Nano in a new plant in the state of West Bengal because of a row over land with farmers.

Analysts say the delivery of the first car to the customer was "very significant" considering the fact that the launch had been delayed.

A highway in Delhi, India
Critics say the Nano will add to India's already clogged up roads

The four-door Nano has a 33bhp, 624cc engine at the rear.

The basic model has no airbags, air conditioning, radio, or power steering. However, more luxurious versions will be available.

Half of the orders were for the most deluxe version of the car, which comes with air conditioning and electric windows, and the remaining 30% for a mid-range model.

Tata said only 20% of customers opted for the cheapest version of the car.

Tata hopes the low cost of the car will encourage millions of Indians to trade up from their motorcycles.

But environmentalists are warning that the Nano will add further clog up India's crowded roads, and pollution levels will soar.

Tata says the Nano will be the least polluting car in India.

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