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Rs 1 lakh poser: Who rides first few Nanos?
NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: With the launch of Nano just days away, speculation over how the eagerly-awaited car will be allotted is at a fever pitch. According to a senior bank executive, bookings for Nano could reach 5 lakh units, which will far exceed Tata Motors’ current production capacity.

Tata Motors is likely to charge a booking deposit of around Rs 70,000 along with Rs 500 as basic application fee for the world’s cheapest car. The auto major will take 60 days to decide the first batch of the few lucky customers who will be selected through a computerised random allotment, a person familiar with the development said. While the car is yet to be launched, the anticipated 5 lakh bookings for Nano seem realistic as every month more than 6 lakh two-wheelers and 1.2 lakh passenger vehicles are sold in the domestic market.

The company is currently making Nano from its facilities at Pantnagar and Pune. Since Tata Motors is constrained by capacity till its Sanand unit comes up, a customer will have to wait at least 2-3 months before he gets delivery of the car. Sanand will have a capacity of 2.5 lakh units per annum.

Sources indicate the company will not be able to produce more than 60,000-70,000 units in the first year. The company will produce less of the base variant (which it intends to price at Rs 1 lakh) and more of the upmarket versions. “The company will take a sizeable booking amount as it wants genuine customers. A smaller booking amount would see customers making more than one booking,” said a senior company official. The company had taken the full amount while taking bookings for Indica.

According to financiers in the automobile segment, who are working closely with Tata Motors to finalise Nano’s mode of allotment, the finer details of the process are yet to be worked out. “We have sent a query to Tata Motors on how to go about the bookings for Nano. We have also asked how much of the booking amount will be retained, how customers can deposit their money with us, and the rate of interest on the loan,” said a person familiar with the development.

When contacted, the Tata Motors spokesperson said, “Tata Motors has already stated that bookings will begin from the second week of April. Tata Motors will share all relevant information on March 23, 2009.” Meanwhile, most of the prominent private banks, including HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank, will not be part of Nano’s booking. Only Kotak Mahindra has confirmed its participation along with a clutch of PSU banks led by SBI.

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