Demand High in India for World’s Cheapest Car

March 24, 2009 01:43 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The release of the $2,200 Nano brings automobile ownership within reach for millions of Indians amid concern that the environmental cost outweighs the benefits.

Tata Nano Eagerly Anticipated

With a suggested retail price of 100,000 rupees, or about $2,200, the Tata Nano has one million applicants for the 60,000 cars it will produce this year.

During the formal launch of the Nano, Reuters reported that Chairman Ratan Tata told reporters, "We are at the gates offering a new form of transportation to the people of India, and later I hope other markets as well."

As Reuters reports, a European version of the Nano is expected by 2011 and the company is also considering the U.S. market as well.

According to ABC News, the Nano was originally to be released in late 2008, however, it was delayed due to protests by farmers and politicians outside of its factory in West Bengal.

Background: How small is the Tata Nano?

According to HowStuffWorks, the Nano is ten feet long and five feet tall, has four doors and can fit five people inside. It is held together by a strong glue rather than the traditional welding techniques. The Nano has a 30-horsepower engine located in the back of the car, can reach up to 60-miles per hour and, according to the Tata company, should get 50 miles per gallon. Yet, there is no radio, only one windshield wiper and air conditioning comes with the deluxe version of the nano.

While the car may inspire claustrophobia among American drivers, it is a step-up in comfort for those Indians who would otherwise be unable to afford anything more substantial than a motorized scooter.

Of course, the ready availability of affordable cars may be a mixed blessing. "If you're talking about urban environment, it will cause serious problems," a transport specialist with the Asian Development Bank told the CBS News.

The Hindustan Times states that the influx of Nanos "is likely to bloat India's fuel bill" and push up gasoline prices.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Tata said, “I observed families riding on two-wheelers … It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family.”

Key Players: Ratan Tata

Fortune magazine lists Ratan Tata as one of its “25 Most Powerful People in Business.” The Tata Group is one of India’s most respected family businesses. Among the company’s holdings are India’s largest software development firm, consultancies, wireless services, a hotel chain and steel factories.

Reference: The Nano on the web

The Nano’s Web site allows users to design and customize their own “dream car” and share comments on the car’s design.

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