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Tata Motors has inaugurated its new Sanand plant in the western Indian state of Gujarat today (2 June) to produce the value Nano model.

Start of production at a brand-new plant was delayed as work was transferred from a 95% complete plant in Singur in West Bengal in 2008, following violent local protests concerning land seizures. Other Tata plants started making the car in the meantime.

The Mumbai-based manufacturer was overwhelmed by initial demand for the Nano, whose most basic model retails at INR100,000 (US$2,100), but is now hoping to ramp up production to 350,000 units per year. Deliveries from Sanand begin this month.

“Demand for the car was somewhat overwhelming – the first 100,000 went to those people who were essentially pulled out of a lottery,” a Tata Motors spokesman told just-auto.

“This factory [Sanand] will come on line and ideally will be a phased increase, so eventually it will be 250,000 cars a year. Should more capacity be needed, then with some balancing, it could be expanded to 350,000 cars per year.”

Given the increasing appetite and ability of Indian consumers to purchase vehicles, there could even be the possibility to widen the new plant’s capacity more.

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“In our wildest dreams, if even more capacity is needed, there is an option to expand it even further,” added the spokesman.

Output, supplemented by the facility at Pantnagar (Uttarakhand), will initially fill orders from the 2009 booking process.

Built in a record time of 14 months starting November 2008, the integrated facility comprises Tata Motors’ own plant, spread over 725 acres, and an adjacent vendor park, spread over 375 acres, to house key component manufacturers for the Nano.

Plant equipment includes sophisticated robotics and high speed production lines. The plant has energy-efficient motors, variable frequency drives, and systems to measure and monitor carbon levels supplemented by extensive tree planting, sustainable water sourcing through water harvesting and ground water recharging and using solar energy for illumination. 

The plant has already directly employed 2,400 people. As capacity increases, the project, along with the vendor park, is expected to generate about 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.

At the vendor park, plots have already been allocated to 41 vendors with more to come. Vendors, accounting for about 80% of the value of components to be sourced from the park, have already begun construction but, in the interim, will supply the plant from existing facilities in India.

Tata had previously met initial Nano orders from its sites in Pune and Pantnagar.