Birthday gift goes up in flames

Birthday gift goes up in flames

When the software company employee took delivery of Tata's dream car Nano last Sunday from its showroom at Prabhadevi near Mumbai's landmark Siddhi Vinayak temple, he had no inkling of how nightmarish the drive back home to Mulund would be.
"I was at the steering with a driver from the showroom sitting next to me, while my wife Nutan and son Vedant were on the rear seat when the AC suddenly stopped working. Though it restarted on its own soon after, my wife felt the stench of something burning when we reached Mulund-Airoli bridge," Sawant told reporters.

Soon they saw smoke coming out from the rear of the car where its engine is located and immediately stopped it on the eastern expressway, hardly five minutes drive from his Mulund home.

"Alarmed, all of us got out of the car and I had barely managed to pull out the documents from the glove box when the vehicle was up in flames. Thankfully, none of us was brought to any harm," said Sawant, who turned 37 two days later.

Now a livid Sawant wants a detailed analysis of what went wrong and criminal action against those responsible for what could have led to a tragedy for him and his family.
Sawant, however, is undecided about taking the Tatas or the dealer to court. "I am in touch with Kirit Somaiya (former MP and BJP national secretary) on the issue, but we have not yet decided what to do. But certainly we want criminal action against whoever is responsible, the company or the dealer," he said.

He is also angry over the Tatas "thinking their responsibility is over" after sending a two-line letter regretting the inconvenience caused and offering to compensate him by either giving a new car or refunding the entire 2.9 lakh Sawant shelled out for it.
"They are treating it like a small incident. It was the first car in my family and I felt so happy driving it home. It was all so psychologically disturbing and traumatic. Who will compensate us for that?" he said.

Meanwhile, Tata Motors has described it as a "one-off incident" and clarified that there was no manufacturing or design lacunae in the Nano.

"We are trying to ascertain what happened--it is just a stray, one-off incident. The proof of this is that there are close to 30,000 Nanos on Indian roads presently," a Tata Motors spokesman told reporters.Sunday's incident follows a few others of smoke emanating from Nano cars last year in New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Lucknow, a few months after its launch early last year.The Tata Motors spokesperson attributed it to a faulty switch which was rectified.

"We have attended to that problem. We proactively checked all cars out at that point of time," he said, denying any connection between those incidents and the Sunday's one in Mumbai. He said despite the company's offer to return Sawant his money or give him another car, "he has not yet got back to us".

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