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Tata's 'Nano' says 'Hello'

Tata's "Nano" car is launched at the 2008 New Delhi Auto Expo, with Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata behind the wheel.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Doug Krizner: Today in India, it's the opening of the New Delhi Auto Expo. And the big buzz is about the Nano. It's the new car from Tata Motors unveiled this morning. The least-expensive car in the world: 2,200 bucks is the price tag.

Let's bring in Mehul Srivastava, he is a reporter for the Indian business paper, Mint. Mehul, what was it like when Tata introduced the Nano?

Mehul Srivastava: Oh, it's been quite intense. Almost every television channel in the country was covering this, but there were about 2,000 people that just walked in off the streets to come take a look at it. And when the car was unveiled, the reaction was quite positive. I ran into people who were asking if they could buy it right away, I ran into a lot of young women saying they can't wait to buy it. So it's a pretty positive reaction. It's not a bucket of bolts, this is a good-looking car that just happens to cost much less.

Krizner: Can you describe what this car looks like?

Srivastava: Well, nobody was allowed inside the car today, so pretty much the best you could do is push your way through the crowds and squeeze your face against the glass. But it's a four-seater, four-door car that looks a little bit like a smart car, if you'd imagine, in Europe. It's this really small engine in the back and kind of some parts broken up in the front. It doesn't have much space for luggage. The car's about 35 to 40 horsepower, it may hit 50 miles per hour in city traffic, and nobody's going to take it out on the highway, because it's not designed for that.

Krizner: So the question now, Mehul, becomes whether Tata will become a player in other emerging markets for middle-class consumers that want to buy a vehicle.

Srivastava: Well, they have every intention of making that a reality. They talked quite briefly, but with a lot of purpose about the possibility of expanding production in the new year to the point where they can export at least to Latin America and to parts in Africa. They want this to be a global phenomenon, and one that they intend to ride all the way.

Krizner: Mehul Srivastava is a reporter for the newspaper Mint in New Delhi. Mehul, thanks so much for speaking with us.

Srivastava: Thanks for having me.

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