Thursday, August 20, 2009

World's Cheapest Car: First Tata Nano Deliveries

The world’s cheapest car, the Tata Nano, hits the streets tomorrow, on Friday, August 20, 2009, as the first customer gets the keys to a vehicle that its makers hope will transform travel for millions of Indians. No wonder that the world s cheapest car search hit the top of the Google Searches. So, do not read further and give your bet. How much you would guess the cheapest car on the Earth cost? I do not know about you, but I was quite surprised when I saw that the cost of the car would be slightly higher than $2K.

It's called the Nano, for its high technology and small size. It's cute, compact, and contemporary. It's a complete four-door car with a 623-cc gas engine, gets 50 miles to the gallon, and seats up to five. It meets domestic emissions norms and will soon comply with European standards. It's 8% smaller in outer length than its closest rival, Suzuki's Maruti 800, but has 21% more volume inside. The speedometer and other instruments cluster in a central pod in the middle of the dashboard rather than directly in front of the driver, the easier (and cheaper) to offer both left- and right-hand versions when Tata Motors starts exporting the car to Southeast Asia and Africa in a couple of years. The top third of the over-sized headlights act as the turn signals (indicators) and look like cheeky yellow eyebrows above the main lights. It has a top speed of about 60 miles per hour. And at $2,000 before taxes (value-added taxes increase the price by about $250), it is the most inexpensive car in the world. The car is manufactured by a Tata Motors (TTM) plant in Singur, Bengal, and is designed to navigate India's potholed roads.

The head of the Nano team says Tata Motors has applied for 34 patents on various components and design features on the new car, though he was short on specifics. The car reportedly uses super strong glue rather than welds in some joints — a technique that a handful of other car makers have used before, though perhaps never as extensively. Tata Motors' cost-cutting drive was relentless: the windshield has just one washer rather than two, the metal steering column was hollowed out to save on steel, cheaper bearings — strong enough to perform well up to (70 kph) but fast wearing beyond that — may be used rather than more expensive components. "It's a very tight package," Ratan Tata said. Given the steep rise in the cost of steel, rubber and other inputs in the past few years, it's possible that the entry level Nano might not break even, though Tata made a point of saying the "one lakh" price tag in India will stay because "a promise is a promise". The car, the company says, will make money across its various models.

The head of Tata Motors, Ratan Tata, was to deliver the first car in person at a central Mumbai dealership, the company said. No details were immediately available about the recipient or the type of Nano being delivered.

Some 100,000 people were selected from a ballot to be the first recipients of the Nano, which reviewers have compared to the European Smart car and the classic “People’s Car”, the Volkswagen Beetle.

They include a roadside cobbler from Mumbai, who had been saving for seven years to buy a two-wheeler, but decided to wait and upgrade to four wheels on hearing that the vehicle would sell for just 100,000 rupees (2,055 dollars).

Others among the 203,000 people who placed orders included an 82-year-old former assistant commissioner of Mumbai police who used to ride a scooter and a market trader looking for an investment for his 12-year-old son.

India’s first female photo-journalist, Homi Vyarawalla, who is now in her mid-90s, has also bid for a car.

Ratan Tata launched the Nano in March, predicting the no-frills vehicle would revolutionize travel for millions of Indians, getting the growing middle-class, urban population off motorcycles and into safer, affordable cars.

Three versions of the sporty, jellybean-shaped Nano went on sale in April: the basic model and more expensive CX and LX models, which have extra features like air-conditioning, automatic windows and central locking.

The standard model sells for 140,000 rupees in the showroom. The deluxe models cost up to 185,000 rupees.

Tata Motors, part of the tea-to-steel Tata Group conglomerate, is India’s top vehicle maker but like many firms in the automotive sector has been hit by the global economic slowdown which has cut demand for trucks and cars.

Last month it posted its first consolidated full-year net loss in eight years, partly blamed on a slump in sales at luxury British carmaker Jaguar Land Rover, which it bought from Ford last year.



Anonymous said...

Very awesome and cheap car. This is really nice seeing this in car as part of the transportation means for simple people. With the economy where it is today is it very important to purchase something that you can count on and won’t let you down. The slightest equipment set back right now could be the difference between in business or the other. The machinery field always has its ups and downs and is always changing but progress will never stop in boom trucks. Even in a questionable economy there is always room for growth and expansion. The will and strength of the people is what makes us all able to move forward and accomplish great feats together and construction has always been the backbone of this country no matter the economic status.

Used Pole Trailers said...

Striking resemblance to the smart car!