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New mini car from India

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Old January 12th, 2008, 12:29 PM
Lakemonster's Avatar
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Default New mini car from India

Tata Nano, world's cheapest new car, is unveiled in India

A team of 500 people worked on creating the Nano - Tata aims to prove that India can compete on the world market as an innovative car maker
Ashling O'Connor of The Times, Delhi
It is a little over 10ft long bumper to bumper, can seat four passengers comfortably, has reached speeds of 65 miles per hour and is set to transform the concept of travel for the masses in India and in poorer parts of the world.

This is the People’s Car, the world’s cheapest car at a starting price of 100,000 rupees ($2,500) or the equivalent of a DVD player in a Lexus.

The prototype of the Nano, the official name of the ultra-cheap car manufactured by Tata, the Indian conglomerate in the lead to buy Jaguar and Land Rover, was unveiled at the auto show in Delhi today with all the frenzied excitement that accompanied the launch of the new Volkswagen Beetle in 1994.

Citing moments in history including the first manned flight by the Wright Brothers and man’s landing on the moon, Ratan Tata, the chairman of the company, revealed a cute, compact car designed to appeal to first-time car buyers in one of the world’s fastest growing car markets.

“I hope this is a car that changes the way people travel in rural and semi rural India. We are a country of a billion people and most are denied connectivity,” he said. “This is a car that is affordable and provides all-weather transport for the family.”

The aluminium car contains a rear-loaded 33 horse-power two-cylinder petrol engine and weighs about half a tonne. It is 3.1m long, 1.5m wide and 1.6m high and has four wheels pushed out to the corners to improve its manoeuvring.

The standard version – which will cost 120,000 rupees on the road after tax and delivery – comes complete with most features in any ordinary car: four doors, a four-gear manual transmission, seatbelts, locking and a steering wheel. A small boot allows enough room for a duffle bag.

The deluxe version, costing slightly more, will have air conditioning and central locking, while features such as radios and sun visors can be added at extra cost.

The car is the culmination of about five years of research and input from designers across the world, including Italy. But it was ultimately designed and made in India, defying scepticism that an Indian group best known for its elephantine trucks could manufacture a cutting-edge product that would catch the attention of the best in the automotive industry.

A team of 500 people worked on the car, which is to be made at Tata’s plant in the eastern state of West Bengal.

The car will be sold first in India, with an initial production run of 250,000 a year, but is expected to be made available in other emerging markets in Latin America, south-east Asia and Africa within four years. It will launch commercially in the second half of the year.

The Nano is about half the price of the cheapest car available. Both the Maruti 800 from India and China’s QQ3Y Chery sell at about $5,000. The prospect of millions of ultra-cheap cars on the roads of developing countries has sent some environmentalists into a panic.

Mr Tata has dismissed suggestions his car will add to the congestion on India’s potholed roads where motorbikes and scooters are the primary mode of transport – about eight million two wheelers will be sold this year.

“I would be concerned if our vehicle created absolute chaos all over India but there are other reasons for this [chaos] other than the presence of our vehicles. The questions about congestion seem to imply that we are going to seep [sic] the global market with millions of these vehicles. We don’t have the resources for that,” he said. “We need to think of our masses. Should they be denied the right to an individual form of transport?”

Tata says the car, which does 50 miles to the gallon, will conform to all present and future emission standards in India and Europe. It has also passed a full-frontal crash test and is designed to pass further impact testing under European standards, he added.
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