Gold Car

The first gold- and jewel-encrusted car has been unveiled in Mumbai, with India's super-rich expected to flock to invest huge capital in gaining a piece of automotive history.

Intended as a tribute to 5,000 years of Indian jewellery-making, the car, designed and decorated by 30 craftsmen, contains 80 kg of 22 carat gold as well as 15 kg of silver.

"As of now it's not meant for sale. It's only meant to travel around to showcase the Indian karigars' (craftsmen's) expertise, and perhaps they are the most exploited in this business," said Bhaskar Bhatt, managing director of Titan industries.

The Financial Times reports that the original Nano, launched with a 100,000-customer waiting list in 2008 and aimed at the emerging Indian middle class, has seen sales plummet. In August the Mumbai-based group shipped just 1,202 units, down 88 per cent from April's 10,012 units.

"Really for the Nano project to make any sense, you need to sell between 15,000 to 20,000 cars every month ... [for] a couple of years," Deepesh Rathore, managing director for India at IHS Automotive, told the Financial Times.

After a Nano spontaneously erupted into flames, the manufacturer had to offer 70,000 owners a safety upgrade to its electrical and exhaust systems.

The Tata Nano, the model that lies beneath the glinting bodywork, is marketed as the world's cheapest car with a price tag of a little over £1,300. The gold version is worth an estimated 220 million rupees (£2.9m), the Daily Telegraph reports.