January 11, 2008

India’s Tata Motors unveils Nano car

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At a mere $2,500, this tiny, new 4-seater from India is being marketed as “The People’s Car.”

Tata Motors unveiled the long-awaited Nano in New Delhi this week as an affordable alternative to motorbikes and scooters.

About 250,000 Nanos will be available in India this year – and Tata expects to begin exporting the car to Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia in a few years.

“I observed families riding on two wheelers – the father driving the scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife seated behind him holding a little baby,” Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata said.

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“It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family,” he added.

The car is so cheap because Tata Motors, India’s largest auto company, reduced the amount of materials used. For example, there is only one windshield wiper, instead of two.

Don’t expect to see the Tata on New York City streets anytime soon. Although it gets an estimated 54 mpg and would be a breeze to park, it’s doubtful it could meet U.S. safety and environmental standards.

“The low cost of the vehicle is partly because it doesn’t conform to a lot of U.S. road-worthiness, safety and emission standards,” said Walter Hook, executive director for the NYC-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

Tata Motors said the Nano meets “all safety norms and all foreign environ-mental criteria.”

Still, environmentalists say the dirt-cheap car would evenutally flood India’s already congested streets.

Tata said the low cost would “bring the joy, pride and utility of owning a car to many families who need personal mobility.”

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India’s Tata Motors unveils Nano car

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