The Tata Group has for months erected an impenetrable firewall around the Rs1-lakh car that is slated to roll out of Tata Motors' Singur factory in June 2008. But on Tuesday, an insider let the cat out of the bag.
"It's an eco-car with a 25 km-per-litre mileage on petrol, meets every international standard and specification, including Euro-4 norms. Acceleration wise, it's the same as a Maruti 800." That's how former CSIR director general R A Mashelkar, who is now an independent director on the Tata Motors board, described the elusive small car on Tuesday.
The renowned scientist had an exclusive ride on a prototype of the car at the Tata Motors' Pune plant. "Just a month ago, I was at the Tata Motors' factory in Pune, talking to their engineers and their fantastic team there. It was there that I had the privilege of sitting in that small car - the Rs1-lakh car that they plan to roll out at Singur. It is incredible," said Mashelkar.
"It's a tool for inclusive growth," Mashelkar said, at a symposium on 'Resurgence of Innovative India: The Phenomenon and the Consequences' organised jointly by East India Pharmaceutical Works and The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, where he was invited to speak on Tuesday 18 December.
Mashelkar also revealed how the small car concept first struck Ratan Tata: "One day, he was going on the road and saw a family of four getting soaked in the rain [on a two-wheeler]. That was when he decided to create a small car for all," he said, "I sat in that car, and it was amazing."