Tata Motors unveils NASCAR's next entry
For millions of people in the developing world, Tata Motors' new $2,500 four-door subcompact -- the world's cheapest car -- may yield a transportation revolution with as great an impact as Henry Ford's Model T, which rolled off an assembly line one century ago. The potential impact of Tata's Nano has given environmentalists nightmares, with visions of the tiny cars clogging India's already-choked roads and collectively spewing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air.
What? Doesn't look like a NASCAR Sprint Cup car you say? No worries. Just change the decals on the NASCAR Car of Tomorrow and presto, you have a Tata Nano
Industry analysts, however, say the car may soon deliver to India and the rest of the developing world unprecedented mobility. It is a potentially gigantic development if it delivers what has been promised," said John Casesa, managing partner for the Casesa Shapiro Group, a New York auto industry financial advisory firm.
"I think there is immense unmet demand for a vehicle of this type, because it effectively eliminates the great leap currently required to go from a two-wheel to a four-wheel vehicle," Casesa said. "They are creating something that has never existed before, the utility of a car with the affordability of a motorcycle."
The basic model, expected to roll of assembly lines later this year, will sell for 100,000 rupees, or about $2,500, but analysts estimate customers could pay 20 percent to 30 percent more to cover taxes, delivery and other charges.
The Nano will cost almost half as much as Suzuki's Maruti 800, the cheapest car on the market.
Almost seven motorcycles are sold for every car in India, where about half the population of 1.1 billion live on less than $2 a day, according to World Bank. Per-capita income has doubled since 2000. The economy has expanded 9 percent a year since 2005, making it the world's fastest-growing major economy after China.
Company Chairman Ratan Tata, who introduced the new car at India's main auto show, has long promised a $2,500 "People's Car" for India, where only seven of every 1,000 people own a car. That vow has been much-derided by the global industry which said it would be impossible without sacrificing safety and quality.
"A promise is a promise," Tata told the crowd after driving onstage in a white, luxury edition Nano, his head nearly touching the roof. Four company executives emerged from another. Tata says the Nano can sit five. More at Detroit News