MUMBAI – Despite violent protests over land purchased from the West Bengal government to build a plant for its new minicar,Motors Ltd. will launch the innovative and inexpensive Nano here next month during India’s festival season.
The car has been certified for roadworthiness and compliance with the government’s safety and emissions regulations by The Automotive Research Association of India testing firm.
Sources reveal the Nano will be available in India in three variants, with prices of Rs100,000 ($2,173), Rs120,000 ($2,600) and Rs130,000 ($2,817), the last of which is an air-conditioned model.
That compares with the800’s three mini models that range in price from Rs190,000 ($4,117) to Rs279,000 ($6,046).
Some 100 Nanos a day will be built between October and March of next year at’s Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand, located in northern India. The plant for the last five years has been manufacturing the 0.7L Ace mini-pickup truck.
A Tata source confirms Nano production will be doubled to 200 units per day in April, as Tata expects to obtain an additional 300-acre (121-ha) allotment from the Uttarakhand government to expand its facility.
However, the 15,000 Nano cars to be built in the current fiscal year, ending March 31, will be far less than the original plan for 50,000 units. As well, the 75,000 Nanos expected to be produced in the coming fiscal year will fall short of the 250,000-unit annual capacity Tata was building at Singur.
With help from opposition party leaders, farmers angry over losing their land to Tata have forced construction work on the new plant to halt, promoting Tata to fast-forward its search for a new location.
The West Bengal government has offered to double compensation to the farmers for the acquired land, payable not just for the disputed property but for the entire 997-acre (404-ha) site.
However, Triniamool Congress Party leader Mamata Banerjee refuses to accept anything less than the return of 400 acres (162 ha) to the aggrieved farmers. She also wants the terms of the land agreement between the government and Tata to be disclosed.
Tata has asked India’s High Court to restrain the government from disclosing the agreement. A ruling has yet to be issued. Meanwhile, Nirupam Sen, West Bengal’s industry minister, reportedly says chances of the Singur plant’s completion “are bleak.”
Tata’s exit from its $350 million Singur facility is well under way, with the shifting of the robotics division, engine assembly, presses and paint shop to Uttarakhand.
Ancillary suppliers are being asked to deliver their components to the Pantnagar plant, and building contractors also have been asked to shift their equipment and machinery to Uttarakhand.
Despite more than 800 policemen guarding the Singur plant, two security guards this week reportedly were injured, with one hospitalized, after attacks by agitators.