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by Tim Beissmann

It may be the cheapest car in the world, but India’s Tata Motors has had more trouble getting people behind the wheel of its budget Nano city car than it ever imagined.

The Indian manufacturer initially forecast sales of 500,000 per year, but has only just passed 100,000 following the start of production in 2008. Sales in September hit just 1200, about half the volume from the same month in 2010.

There are a number of reasons for the poor sales: a lack of dealerships in rural cities, high financing prices, a spate of vehicle fires, and, as an executive from a rival manufacturer told the Financial Times earlier this year, the fact that “nobody wants to own the world’s cheapest car”.

To combat the sluggish sales, Tata has launched an upgraded version of the Nano for 2012.

The refreshed model gets more power, better economy, new colours and interiors, and retains its old price.

The Nano’s 624cc engine now produces 28kW of power and 51Nm of torque – up 2kW/3Nm from before – leading to a top speed of 105km/h. Its combined cycle fuel consumption now matches the Toyota Prius at 3.9 litres/100km, and Tata says it is emits the least CO2 of any car available in India.

The 2012 Nano gets a revised suspension set-up with a front anti-roll bar, a new steering mechanism, power-assisted brakes and a “racier-sounding exhaust note”.

The higher-spec CX and LX models now come with two side mirrors, while the passenger-side mirror is optional for the base model Nano Standard. Tata also says the Nano also offers the best air conditioning in its class.

There are 10 colours to choose from, eight of them new and more vibrant than before. All models come with a four-year/60,000km warranty.

The 2012 Tato Nano is priced from Rs.1.40-1.96 lakhs ($2732-$3824) in India.




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