AUTOSHOW-UPDATE 1-Tata Motors eyes launching Nano car in U.S.

Tue Jan 5, 2010 8:02am EST

* Chairman says may consider U.S. Nano launch in 3 years

* Says no short-term objective in JLR buy

* Unveils three new models at New Delhi auto show (Recasts; adds details, background)

By C.J. Kuncheria and Devidutta Tripathy

NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (Reuters) - India's Tata Motors (TAMO.BO) may consider launching its ultra-cheap Nano car in the United States in three years, its chairman said on Tuesday, following possible sales in Europe by the end of 2011.

"We also recognise there is a market (for the Nano) not only in developing countries, but possibly in the developed countries," Ratan Tata told reporters at the New Delhi auto show.

"For the United States we need a car which has a larger engine and we need additional crash test modifications and we are in the process of doing it."

The United States is the world's largest auto market, but data this week should show China surpassed it with about 13 million vehicles sold in the Asian economic powerhouse this year.

The Nano, whose billing as the world's cheapest car gained it significant attention from across the globe, was showcased by Ratan Tata at the previous edition of the New Delhi autoshow two years ago.

Tata has said his company may produce hybrid versions of the model and that Italy's Fiat FIA.MI and Tata Motors plan to sell the Nano jointly in Latin America.

NO "SHORT-TERM" OBJECTIVES FOR JLR

Analysts have fretted that Tata Motors has overstretched itself by acquiring the Jaguar and Land Rover brands in 2008, just before the global financial crisis erupted.

Tata brushed aside the concerns, saying the auto industry had taken knocks, but the acquisition should be seen in the context of long-term value it brought to the group.

"No one makes, or should make, an acquisition based on short-term opportunistic objectives," Tata said.

"We believe the integration of the two companies and for once, giving Jaguar and Land Rover an opportunity to make their own destinies would be a change that might bring Jaguar back to the kind of company it was."

Tata Motors recently reported a return to operating profit for the JLR unit, suggesting cost cuts were bearing fruit and new models were attracting buyers. [ID:nBOM33284]

Tata also said there was no plan to acquire one of Fiat's manufacturing facilities in Italy, denying media reports.

Tata Motors, which has about 60 percent of India's truck and bus market, launched a 7-seater multipurpose vehicles named Tata Aria, an 8-seater Tata Venture and another vehicle named Magic IRIS at the show.

It also showcased the Jaguar XJ sedan for the first time in India.

Toyota (7203.T) and Honda (7267.T) launched new compact cars to tap the price-sensitive India market as they and other automakers seek to put a dire 2009 behind them. [ID:nSGE60401E]

For a FACTBOX on car launches at the show, click [ID:nTOE5BN07H]

For a graphic on the India auto market, click

here

For more stories on Reuters India website, click

here (Writing by Pratish Narayanan; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)

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