Mike Stevens | Jul 19, 2009

of the world's cheapest car, Tata's landmark Nano. The car tipped to drastically alter India’s automotive landscape was personally delivered by Tata Motors CEO, Ratan Tata, to three lucky customers at a special launch event in Mumbai India

Overwhelming demand for the car, which has a starting price from just 140,000 Rupees (AU$3590), saw the first 100,000 delivery slots decided in a national lottery.

That first production allocation is expected to take around 12 months to fill.

Ratan Tata decided to develop the low-cost car after seeing entire families piled onto scooters in India’s streets.

With motorcycles currently outselling cars seven to one in India, the Nano was conceived as a viable, and safer option for India’s rapidly growing middle class.

A 59 year-old customs official from Mumbai, Ashok Raghunath Vichare, was the first to take delivery of the Nano. He said that he and his family would be taking the car, an up-spec LX variant, to a nearby Hindu temple to have it blessed.

After a being forced to relocate the Nano’s production facility, due to a land dispute, Tata has delivered the car 12 months behind schedule.

Three versions of the 624cc engined Nano will be available: the basic Nano and the more luxurious CX and LX variants which add luxury features such as air-conditioning, central locking, alloy wheels and painted bumpers, topping out at 185,000 Rupees (AU$4750).

While the Nano will only initially be available in India, plans are underway to export a slightly larger and more powerful version of the car to Europe by 2011.

Other world markets are set to follow after that, although Tata has not yet revealed where or when this might happen.

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