When in January 2008, company boss Ratan Tata unveiled his minimalist vehicle – the Tata Nano – in the Indian capital New Delhi, he rattled the motor industry to the core. His stated intention was to produce the cheapest car in the world. Sales in India start on 1st April and it is now clear that this is no April Fool stunt. The motivation behind Ratan's Nano is as simple as the car itself: all Indian families who still do not own a car of their own should be given the opportunity to acquire a safe and affordable mode of transport with four wheels for roughly 1,700 euros.

But production in India has been repeatedly delayed, as protests from Bengali famers forced Tata to close their original factory. The new car plant in New Delhi will not reach its full production capacity of 350,000 units a year until 2010. The Tata concern hopes to deliver some 100,000 vehicles in its first phase of production. Anyone interested in buying a Nano has until the end of April to pre-order one with a deposit of around 44 euros. The European model, premiered at the Geneva Motor Show, has a much higher specification and should be available from 2011 onwards. Prices for the European version have not yet been released but are expected to come in below 5,000 euros.