Indian car and metals company Tata yesterday launched a new car, the Nano, that sells for the bargain basement price of R100,000 (rupees), or $A2800.
Billed as the world’s cheapest car, Tata hopes the low price of the Nano will help the overwhelming majority of Indians who rely on motorcycle and bicycle transport to buy their first car.
The company also plans to target other emerging markets with low automobile penetration in Asia and Africa with what it has dubbed “the people’s car.”
The Nano has five seats, four doors, and looks a bit like a shrunken mini-van with four very small wheels. It has a two-cylinder 623cc engine, four speed manual transmission and a top speed of 105 kilometres per hour.
Tata says that the Nano will be safer and less polluting than most motorcycles, but environmentalists fear if the car proves popular it will make India’s chaotic roads even worse and increase greenhouse gas emission levels.
“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. 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,” Tata chairman Ratan Tata says.