Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The world’s least expensive car, the Tata Nano, has been launched in India. It will go on sale in April, and will start delivery in July. The automobile costs only 100,000 Indian rupees, or just under US$2,000.
“We are at the gates offering a new form of transportation to the people of India, and later I hope other markets as well,” said the chairman of the auto firm, Ratan Tata, calling the vehicle a “milestone.”
“From the drawing board to its commercial launch, the car has overcome several challenges,” Tata said. “I hope it will provide safe, affordable four-wheel transportation to families who till now have not been able to own a car.
“This was never conceived as the cheapest car, but as providing transport to those people who never owned a car,” Tata said. “Driven mainly by the change in demand that we see elsewhere in the world, we suddenly felt we had a product that could be of considerable interest as a low-cost product in western Europe, eastern Europe, the UK and even the U.S.”
The Tata Nano is a four-door vehicle, and is 3 metres long, 1.5 m wide, and 1.5 m tall. It is equipped with a 33 bhp, 624 cc engine at the rear. No radio, airbags, power steering, or air conditioning are available in the basic model, although upgrades are available. The Nano Europa, a slightly larger European version of the car, is expected in 2011.
According to Ravi Kant, the managing director at Tata Motors, the first 100,000 people to receive a Nano would be chosen from the initial orders by a ballot.
An auto analyst for Bombay’s Angel Broking, Vaishali Jajoo, predicted that the Nano will add only three percent to Tata’s revenues even if it can sell a quarter of a million such cars per annum.
“That doesn’t make a significant difference to the top line,” Jajoo said. “And for the bottom line, it will take five to six years to break even.”
Environmentalists say that the car will exacerbate traffic problems already rife in India, and help increase pollution levels. Tata, however, stated that its vehicle is the least polluting car in the country.