Tata Nano: The World’s Cheapest Car
Tata Motors today took the covers off the world’s cheapest car — the Nano.
Over the past year, Tata has been building hype for a car that would cost a mere 100,000 rupees (roughly $2,500) and bring automotive transportation to the mainstream Indian population. It has been nicknamed the “People’s Car.” Over the course of the New Delhi Auto Expo, which began this week, anticipation had grown to fever pitch.
With the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey” playing, Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Motors drove the small white bubble car onto Tata’s show stage, where it joined two others.
“They are not concept cars, they are not prototypes,” Mr. Tata announced when he got out of the car. “They are the production cars that will roll out of the Singur plant later this year.”
The four-door Nano is a little over 10 feet long and nearly 5 feet wide. It is powered by a 623cc two-cylinder engine at the back of the car. With 33 horsepower, the Nano is capable of 65 miles an hour. Its four small wheels are at the absolute corners of the car to improve handling. There is a small trunk, big enough for a duffel bag.
“Today, we indeed have a People’s Car, which is affordable and yet built to meet safety requirements and emission norms, to be fuel efficient and low on emissions,” Mr. Tata added. “We are happy to present the People’s Car to India and we hope it brings the joy, pride and utility of owning a car to many families who need personal mobility.”
The base price for the Nano will be 120,000 rupees, including road tax and delivery. Higher level models will cost more and come with air-conditioning. Sun visors and radios are extra.
The nearest priced competitor is the Maruti 800, which costs roughly twice as much as the Nano. In comparing the Nano to the Maruti 800, Mr. Tata said, “It is 8 percent smaller — bumper to bumper — and has 21 percent larger seating capacity than Maruti 800.”
The Hindustan Times reports reactions from a couple of Tata’s competitors, Maruti and Hyundai:
Jagdish Khattar, a former head of Maruti 800 manufacturer Maruti Udyog Ltd., says it’s too early to say whether the Nano will overtake the original.
“It’s a good product but it’s still too early to say whether it will overtake the 800 because it caters to a totally new market segment,” he said while watching a live telecast of Tata’s press conference after unveiling of the Nano.
But clearly, at least one other manufacturer was worried.
An official of Hyundai Motors, which unveiled an LPG version of its Santro Thursday, was more circumspect.
“We definitely see it as impacting our sales,” he said in halting English, preferring to maintain anonymity.
Anand Mahindra, managing director for Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors’ primary competitor, said before the unveiling, “I think it’s a moment of history and I’m delighted an Indian company is leading the way.”
The Nano will go on sale in India later this year with an initial production run of 250,000 a year. Tata says it will offer the Nano in other emerging markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa within four years.