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Third Nano goes up in flames, this one in Delhi
[Image: Nano-flames.jpg]

Barely three months after Tata Motors certified the Nano as ‘‘ absolutely safe’’ , in a first in Delhi, a car went up in flames at a parking lot in Aurobindo Marg on Friday. The driver managed to get out on seeing sparks; in all of two minutes, only a charred frame remained.

The car, which belonged to a Supreme Court advocate, had just pulled into the parking lot around 11.30am when driver Patrick John noticed sparks coming from the rear, where the engine is located. ‘‘ I was waiting in the car, having just parked it, when sparks started coming out.

Thankfully, I managed to leap out of the car in time. I shudder to think what might have happened otherwise, since it was all over so fast. The entire car was destroyed in two minutes flat,’’ said John.

Two similar incidents were reported in Vadodara and Mumbai earlier this year following which Tata Motors launched an inquiry.

In May, it said the accidents were due to unrelated reasons and that the car was safe. The company has called a probe into Friday’s incident; a spokesperson from Mumbai said a Tata team would inspect the vehicle to ascertain the reasons behind the accident.

Can’t blame Nano yet, say experts

In a first in Delhi, a car went up in flames at a parking lot in Aurobindo Marg on Friday. The sky blue Nano bought by SC advocate Ravinder Narayan in May, had done 34,000km and was serviced once.

‘‘ On Friday, we were driving from Connaught Place to Hauz Khas, so had barely travelled 8-9 kilometres,’’ John said. The driver was travelling with the advocate’s manager before the accident occurred. Narayan was unavailable for comment.

Automobile experts said the fire was possibly not endemic to the Nano. ‘‘ It is possible that the car had been tweaked to add some features like power windows or a fancy audio system where the wiring was not done properly,’’ said editor-inchief of Zigwheels , Adil Jal Darukhanawala.

There have been incidents of Nano catching fire right from when deliveries began in March this year. While initially the problem was put down to the combination switch towards the dashboard of the car, incidents later pointed to engine fault which prompted a company investigation.

In May, Tata Motors asserted that the Nano was ‘‘ absolutely safe’’ . A company statement issued on May 21 said: ‘‘ Tata Motors has undertaken a comprehensive investigation related to the cause of fire in two Tata Nanos.

On the basis of the findings of the investigation , conducted by a 20-member internal team and an independent forensic expert, Tata Motors assures all customers that the Tata Nano is a safe car, with a robust design and stateof-the-art components.’’

The latest setback comes at a time when Tata Motors is looking to open new bookings for the Nano after production began at its new plant in Gujarat . Analysts said repeated incidents of fire could affect demand for the budget car.
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