Tata Motors, maker of the Nano, the world’s cheapest car, ruled out a recall of the tiny runabout yesterday in spite of three incidents in which fires started spontaneously in the steering column.

Tata, which sells the basic version of the Nano in India for 100,000 rupees ($2,000) plus taxes, said that a short circuit in the combination switch that controls the headlights, windscreen wipers and indicators was probably responsible for the incidents.

Sunil Kumar Panwanda, whose Nano caught fire in Delhi, said that his daughter parked the car outside his home on Tuesday afternoon. Three hours later it was “in flames and smoking”, he told The Times. “I had bought the car for my children and they are now terrified of driving it,” he said in an interview with a local news channel. “I want the company to refund my money and take back the vehicle.”

Ravindra Bhagat, another Nano owner, whose car caught on fire in the city of Ahmedabad, said: “I bought the car because Ratan Tata [the head of Tata] drove and introduced it. I thought this small car will be convenient for daily use in the city. Now, I feel it is better to drive a big car. Even if I get a replacement, I will not accept it.”

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