World’s Cheapest Car Debuts In India – 1/10/2008

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Tata Motors debuts the Nano at the New Delhi Auto Expo in India on January 10th, 2008; the company is presenting it as the world’s inexpensive vehicle at the cost of $2,500. Being India’s biggest automaker, Tata labeled the bubble-shaped, four-door mini-vehicle the “People’s Car” and stated that it would be the car for families who could not before have been able to purchase a vehicle; it was 10 feet long and 5 feet wide. During this time period, it was commonplace to view an entire family unsafely packed onto one motorbike.

Originally, the Nano was predicted to go on sale for consumers in October of 2008; unfortunately, delays in production came about in West Bengal due to a dispute over land where the vehicle’s production facility was being constructed. The company made the decision to relocate the production plant to a different area of India which helped the Nano to go on sale across the country in April of 2009. The starting price was roughly $2,000 before tax for a basic model that came without power windows, a radio, power steering, air conditioning or airbags. The car was able to reach speeds up to 65 miles per hour as the rear-mounted engine contained 624cc two-cylinders with 32 horsepower; the body of the car was made of sheet metal and plastic. Another way the vehicle was able to cut back on costs was equipping the car with only a single windshield wiper.

The Nano was able to generate for Tata pre-orders consisting of more than 203,000; this was considered a great number especially that during the time there were only roughly 9 cars per 1,000 individuals in India. Yet, due to the fact that the company was only able to build an initial run totaling 1,000 Nanos, a lottery was held to award the first owners of a car. Initially, the Nano was sold to those residing in India even though Tata said it eventually intended to sell the car to other places around the world. However, considering the tastes of the American consumer, it is hard to imagine many would consider purchasing such a vehicle unless the “upgrades” were not expensive to install. Furthermore, the company would most likely face criticism for the lack of safety features a basic model would offer.

Tata Motors is part of what is known as the Tata Group which is just one of India’s oldest and biggest business conglomerates. Also, Tata is not limited to only building inexpensive cars; the company bought the venerable British brands Land Rover and the Jaguar in March of 2008 for the price of $2.3 billion from the Ford Motor Company.

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