India’s Tata Motors has opened its new factory for the manufacturing of the inexpensive, tiny Nano model. Protests by local farmers drove them out of the previous location; the new location is Sanand in the Gujarat state of India, which is an area known for being business-friendly.
The Nano will be sold in Europe first and will eventually be available in the U.S., according to Tata.
After driving the first vehicle off the assembly line at the new facilities Tata Chairman Ratan Tata told Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi, “We owe you a great debt of gratitude for having made this happen.”
Shortly after the inauguration of the factory, a huge cyclone tore large portions of the roofing off one building and collapsed a ceiling. Spokesman Debasis Ray said production would not be affected because only one building was damaged.
Tata’s original factory in West Bengal had to be abandoned due to protests led by Mamata Banerjee against farmland being used for industry. The company has only been able to produce a limited number of vehicles at an existing factory until now.
The facility in Sanand will be an accelerated production facility with a goal of 250,000 vehicles annually, which could easily be raised to 350,000 units per year. Forty one vendors are setting up shop nearby, and deliveries from the plant will begin this month.
How cheap is the ultra-cheap Nano? The answer is that the car is cheap enough for many of the India’s poor to afford to switch from accident prone motorbikes to a car—a little over $2,000. Since the Nano’s launch, 30,763 have been sold. Although the car caused quite a stir initially, interest waned after two of the vehicles caught fire.
Tata investigated the fires and found no design or safety flaws; however, the company is adding extra protection to the cars’ fuel lines, says spokesman Ray.
Contest winners will be driving a fleet of Nanos across India to celebrate the opening of the new factory. Locals have been supportive of the facility on the whole, although some say they haven’t gotten jobs they expected.
Editor of the Gujarat Aarsi newspaper, Bahadurbhai Majithiya, said, “Everyone in Sanand would like to keep a photograph of Mamata Banerjee in our home to do puja (a Hindu prayer ceremony). Such a high profile project would never have come here were it not for her agitation.”
For more auto industry news, please visit EveryCarListed.com.