World's costliest car goes on sale

2010-10-29 12:22

New Delhi - The world's most expensive and fastest production car has gone on sale in India, with luxury manufacturer Bugatti making its debut in the land of rickshaws.

The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, which has a top speed of 407 kilometres an hour, went on display in a car dealership in the capital New Delhi on Thursday priced at 160 million rupees ($3.6m).

Just 150 of the cars will be sold worldwide, though there will be few opportunites for the car to show its performance on India's potholed and notoriously congested roads.

"India is the hub of luxury, the country of the erstwhile Maharajas, who were the true patrons of bespoke luxury," Bugatti executive Julius Kruta said in a statement, referring to India's former hereditary rulers.

"We have in the past received a heartening response from our valued customers and I think the launch of the Bugatti in India will truly delight our discerning audience."

A host of Western luxury car and motorbike manufacturers are targeting the Indian market where the fast-developing economy is minting new multi-millionaires every year.

Shortcomings in public infrastructure are a major constraint on growth, however, and the nation's road network often features poorly maintained single-lane routes outside highly congested urban areas.

One of the country's best-known fast-car enthusiasts, superstar cricket batsman Sachin Tendulkar, beats the traffic by taking his Ferrari out in the early hours of the morning in his home town of Mumbai.

Iconic motorbike maker Harley-Davidson is the most recent major brand to bet on India's elite and has invested in a glitzy showroom in New Delhi, which opened in July.

India has a record 69 billionaires, with 17 new members added to the exclusive club this year, according to business magazine Forbes.

But some 836 million Indians also live on less than 20 rupees (45 cents) a day, according to a government report, while Indian statistics on health, infant mortality, malnutrition and income are worse than those for sub-Saharan Africa.