Cars Are Getting Weirder and Cheaper

Nissan Qazana concept

Nissan Qazana concept

Taking a look at the auto news this weekend, I’m struck by two things:

1. More ultra cheap cars are on the way.

2. Really weird car designs are on the way.

The world’s cheapest car, the $2,500 Tata Nano, may be having more of an influence on the auto industry than anyone could have expected. The ultra cheap car is a huge hit in India and new details are emerging about the soon-to-come U.S. and European versions.

Not wanting to sit around and watch Tata rule the cheap car world, other automakers are jumping into the party. Remember the VW/Suzuki partnership? Looks like the first child of that marriage will be a small car for the Indian market that should cost between $4,000 and $5,000.

Renault-Nissan wants in, too, and is partnering with an Indian motorcycle maker to produce a car that undercuts even the Nano’s price.

Even Toyota plans to unveil a car that will cost “well below $10,000” for emerging markets such as India, Russia, and Latin America. The Entry Family Car (or EFC) will debut on Jan. 5 at the New Delhi Auto Show.

I can’t blame automakers for wanting to get in on the emerging markets – there are a lot of sales to be made there. But what toll does the production of a $4,000 car take on the value of a company’s other models? Can a company like Nissan sell such a cheap car and still command $30,000+ on SUVs elsewhere in the world?

In Nissan’s case, the company may be hoping extreme design fills the gap and increases the perceived value of its cars. Take the Qazana, for example, which AutoExpress recently caught in some spy photos.

Isuzu Vehicross

Isuzu Vehicross

It looks to me like a cross between the old Isuzu Vehicross and a moon lander. It’s just plain weird, but in a kind of cool and intriguing way. I remember saying something similar back when the Nissan Murano debuted, and today that styling has been copied so many times it’s no longer cutting-edge or weird. Maybe the same thing will happen with the Qazana, and it will keep buyers interested in the brand even while prices on low end models take a free fall.

Would you consider a Qazana? Think it will be sold in the States? I have my doubts, but you never know!


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