Thank God, it’s finally over! What I went through a few hours ago was pretty traumatic because I am a shy person.” That’s how Tata Motors chairman Ratan Tata summed up his feelings minutes after the launch of Nano. For someone known to be reticent at best and fiercely private at worst, Mr Tata’s admission was a break from tradition. Like the car that has been his dream for the longest time. Although he assured eco-activists RK Pachauri and Sunita Narain that they “need not have nightmares and can now sleep well”, he himself did without much sleep all through the last 24 hours. “I left at 2 (am) in the night after settling the event and was back here at 7 (am) in the morning for the dry run,” he admitted. That back-breaking schedule was worth it. In the end, Nano’s debut turned out to be a global blockbuster. No other car company in the world can boast the mass hysteria that the cute Rs 1-lakh car generated this afternoon. The debut was beamed live across the world.
One traveller caught the show at Frankfurt airport on German TV. Another watched it live on TV in London. Just minutes after the curtain went up and the cars drove onto the stage, each carrying four company officials, people started getting SMS-es from friends and relatives abroad. Everyone wanted a piece of the action. In real time. The show itself was a sellout. Every inch of space was taken. As the photographers and TV crews got into rugby scrum, the usual mutterings turned into a slanging match and the pushing and shoving became a virtual stampede when the car appeared on stage. This was also the moment all good manners went out of the window-all those who had a chair of their own stood on it for a better dekko at the people’s car. Even its arch rivals were as rah rah as the Tata Motors officials themselves. Mahindra Renault MD Rajesh Jejurikar called the car ‘fabulous’. As did Ankush Arora, marketing veep of GM, who however pointed out that the central console was first introduced in India in Spark.