That’s what Tata Motors is set to do, though, as the already infamous Tata Nano goes on sale in India this April for about $2,500, or to put it another way, about the same price as the navigation system on Tata’s Jaguar XJ. How’s that for a contrast in vehicle offerings?
The Nano, which won’t be available in the U.S., is expected to bring the freedom of automobiles to the people of India. Tata hopes that the low price will be enough to lure Indians away from their mopeds and scooters and introduce them to a vehicle capable of hauling their families in dry comfort.
I use the word “hauling” loosely, however, as the Nano is powered by a rear-mounted 33-horsepower two-cylinder engine and isn’t much bigger than Apple’s same-named MP3 player. Still, though, for the price buyers get a four-door hatchback that can seat four people and has a CVT transmission helping deliver an estimated 54 U.S. miles per gallon.
On a car this cheap, though, corners must also be cut. The base Nano has no airbags, radio, or power steering and reaches a top speed of only about 75 miles per hour. Plus there’s no air-conditioning to help deal with the brutal Indian summer heat.
While the Nano isn’t likely to make an impact in America, the technology behind it could represent a new era in the world of small cars. Plus, it sure beats driving a motorcycle in a monsoon in India.
If the Tata Nano were available where you live, would you consider buying one?