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Tata to Launch Nano On March 23

Tata Motors Ltd. has set March 23 as the launch date for its 100,000 rupees ($2005) minicar, about three months behind initial schedule after the auto maker had to relocate its factory late last year.

Bookings for the Nano — the world’s cheapest passenger car — will begin in the second week of April, India’s largest auto maker by sales said in a statement Thursday. Booking process and other details will be announced at the time of launch, it added.

Tata Motors had originally planned to launch the Nano in the fourth quarter of 2008. But, it had to relocate its factory in the eastern state of West Bengal in October following violent protests from a political party and farmer groups over the farmland taken over for the plant.

The auto maker — which had invested about 15 billion rupees for the factory at Singur in West Bengal — subsequently said it will invest about 20 billion rupees on a factory to produce the Nano in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

The new factory will have an initial capacity to produce 250,000 cars per year, which can be doubled at a later stage, Tata had said. However, the status of the new factory in Gujarat isn’t currently known.

Earlier, the company had said it will explore the possibility of manufacturing the initial batches of Nanos at its existing factories at Pune in western India and Pantnagar in northern India.

Tata Motors currently produces passenger vehicles such as the Indica small car and Indigo sedan in Pune. It also has factories in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the eastern city of Jamshedpur.

Ratan Tata, who heads the diversified conglomerate Tata group, wanted to produce the Nano to provide an affordable and safe means of transportation to millions of motorcyclists in India.

This article was originally posted on The Wall Street Journal

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