July 2nd, 2009
08:25 AM GMT
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) - For many Indians, a four-wheeled family car is the stuff of hopes and aspirations.

And Maruti Jayawant Bhandare – a 43-year-old man living on $160 a month by mending shoes from his tiny stall in Mumbai – learned earlier this week his dreams might have come true.

News reporters told him he was one of the lucky first 100,000 customers selected for the world's cheapest car, the Nano, being built by India's Tata Motors.

He was one of 206,703 people who in April booked what has been billed in India as “the common man's car.” He paid Rs 140,000, or around $2,800, for a deluxe version of the Nano; the basic model is priced from $2,000.

A cobbler booking a Nano made news in India, where a car ownership is a luxury for most. Here was a potential car owner who lives in a rented room in a Mumbai tenement with his wife and two school-age children.

I called him after seeing news reports he was among the first. Bhandare was eager to receive his tiny, jelly bean-shaped car – although he had yet to learn how to drive.

Still, he was a little unsure when his car would arrive since Bhandare doesn't know how to access the Internet to check the delivery information the company provided. So he gave me his details to check the company Web site for his application status.

Alas, I found the earlier press reports were incorrect – "Mr Maruti Bhandare" was not among the lucky first Nano owners. He is scheduled to take delivery of his car between January and March 2011.

A two-year wait for his sunshine-yellow hatchback sounded a bit too long for Bhandare. "I will go to the showroom, make some inquiries and decide then what's to be done now," he said.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Manuel Vilhena

    Are not two years, but one and a half. I wish him, as well, Indian people in general good and safety journeys in their new automobiles.

    July 2, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  2. mohit

    nano is a good step forward as it may provide a lot of people safety.a family at times have to go on a bike i.e.maybe 3 or 4 people on it,and is a very good move for the rural market that has kept indian gdp flying despite the world going haywire.

    and it is definately going to be a much sought after thing in many parts of the world.

    so it is a move for good of the people around the world,and we should applaud this economical machine

    July 2, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  3. Nomad

    Yea my Dad was in India for business a few weeks ago and said he would have bought one upfront if one had been available then and there.

    July 8, 2009 at 12:52 am |
  4. Johannes Mokate

    Wouldn't want to be in it when it crashes!!!

    July 8, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  5. Sugam

    The Nano is a very safe car with high standards, it has been priced keeping in view the aspirations of the Indian people. For many people owning a 4-wheeler would have been a far fetched dream, but it has been made true by Tata Motors. Steps like these to uplift humanity are very noble. I hope to see it on the roads soon.

    July 14, 2009 at 4:24 am |
  6. Dhaval Shah

    Well...Knowing the crowded streets of Mumbai and major cities of India, Nano is just going to add to the traffic problem which is due to the scarcity of space. One thing is evident with the launch of Nano that Indian automotive companies are progressing, but on the other hand this progress is going to hinder the overall dynamics of traveling around india. As Johannes mentioned in an earlier post, the Nano is going to be a death trap for high speed crashes. NOT suitable for the roads of the U.S. Tata needs to re-evaluate!

    July 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm |

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