Nano day one: top-end model most popular

Written by Shweta Bhanot | Yogima Seth | Mumbai, New Delhi | Updated: Apr 11 2009, 04:37am hrs
The top-end variant of the Nano, the LX, appeared to generate the most interest as bookings for the Tata Motors low-cost car opened across more than 30,000 locations in 1,000 cities nationwide on Thursday. The much cheaper standard model saw the least bookings, even in smaller cities.

Although the company said the first day was too early to give out booking numbers, a Tata Motors spokesperson said the signs are encouraging and our partners are indicating that there has been a footfall increase of 25%-50% at their outlets. He added that it would be difficult to give the exact number of forms sold or submitted and that those figures would only be available on April 25 when bookings close.

However, the rising groundswell of interest in the vehicle can be gauged by the fact that Tata dealerships across the country saw 3 lakh footfalls since April 1, the day Nano vehicles reached various showrooms. The Nano website has recorded over 50 million hits, including over 20 million in the fortnight since formal launch on March 23.

I have been waiting for the car for over a year and now hope to be among the first 1 lakh lucky customers, said Maruti Bhandari, a Mumbai cobbler who arrived at a showroom on Thursday with a cheque of Rs 1.40 lakh to book an LX variant. The father of two sons, Bhandari doesnt even have a driving licence yet, but wants to learn behind the wheel of his own car: I will not go to a motor training school. Id rather sit in my own car and learn driving.

Many customers like Bhandari preferred not to finance their booking, but to pay for it with their own money. The down payment for the LX (BS-III) and CX (BS-II and III) is Rs 1.4 lakh and Rs 1.2 lakh, respectively. The LX (BS-III) variant carries a sticker price of Rs 1.72 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and Rs 1.85 lakh (Mumbai), while the CX (metallic BS-III) cost Rs 1.51 lakh (Delhi) and Rs 1.6 lakh (Mumbai).

In Mumbai, dealerships sold over 5,000 forms. A prominent dealer from Mumbai said, The response has been promising.

The response on Thursday in northern India, however, was rather more lukewarm. Despite selling around 1,500 forms until yesterday, the company received only 60 completed applications on the first day, with an equal number of cash purchases and finance, said a somewhat disappointed Tata Motors dealer in central Delhi. The Nano is displayed at ten Tata Motors dealerships in the NCR.

Ludhiana, where Tata Motors has two showrooms, saw a lull after over 3,500 forms were sold in the city in the last nine days. We have received a mere 25 bookings so far, says one Ludhiana dealer, who claims to be the largest in town. Says Mohit Dubey, CEO of CarWale.com, We have received over 5,000 inquires about the Nano on our website. We have tied up with Tata Capital Ltd and one can book the car for only Rs 3,199. He said 80% of the bookings are expected to come in for the LX variant.

According to Abdul Majeed, an auto analyst and partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, The biggest challenge before the Tatas is distribution of the cars. He added that once bookings come in, delivery and after-sales service would need to be watched. Tata Motors currently produces 50 cars a day, which will be ramped up to 300 soon. In an official statement, the company stated that deliveries of the Nano would commence from July.