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Tata Motors Asks Dealers to Prepare for Nano

Company gearing up its distribution network in anticipation of "a slew of new launches this year"

Tata Motors has begun gearing up its distribution network, especially in upcountry markets, to aggressively support its future car launches, especially the high-profile Nano, company dealers said. Xenon, a premium lifestyle pick-up vehicle for personal usage, will be launched this month followed by the Rs 1-lakh Nano before the end of the financial year. Tata dealerships have been asked to strengthen manpower, which company officials say would be needed for more efficient customer service.

"We have been asked to open as many showrooms as possible at the district level as the company has planned a slew of new launches this year," said a Mumbai-based Tata Motors dealer on conditions of anonymity. However, the company is still hush-hush on exact details of the Nano launch, officials close to the development said. An email query to Tata Motors went unanswered.

The first lot of Nanos will roll out from Pantnagar (Tata Motors' manufacturing plant). The company has officially stated that Nano will focus on semi-urban and rural markets. Dealers say bookings will start at the end of this month and deliveries will begin by March 2009. The company's current dealer network for passenger cars will also be tapped for distributing Nano.

Xenon was launched in Thailand last year and currently retails in South-East Asian markets and Europe. It will be positioned in the premium lifestyle segment in India. Xenon retails for $17,000 to $19,500 in Thailand. The only model that comes close to this vehicle in India is Scorpio Getaway.

The initial bookings for Nano are being done to gauge the demand for the vehicle. The base version will be without an AC. Company Officials indicate that Tata Motors may be able to stand by its promise of launching Nano at Rs 1 lakh. Officials close to the project said there may not be too many takers for the base version of Nano and most consumers may opt for the AC version, which would retail at around Rs 1.4 lakh. It is learnt that Tata Motors Finance is considering various financing packages through SBI and HDFC to offer competitive interest rates.

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