The Tata Nano, India's $2,500 Car

hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
The car may be tiny and spartan, but the implications of this car, for India and the developing world, are huge.
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Comments

  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    Good idea for a topic!

    "A Cornell University-trained architect who personally helped design the Nano, Ratan Tata had long vowed he'd develop a car cheap enough so Indians could trade their motorbike in for one."

    Tata Nano: The World's Cheapest Car (Inside Line)

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    There's some more links in Straightline.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganMember Posts: 13,994
    Well since my post was erased this seems to be a specific automobile topic not for news and views, or am I missing something ??? :confuse:

    As the Nano, stands it will not pass U.S. crash standards ;)

    -Rocky
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    I paid almost that much for my Fisher Mtn Bike 8 years ago. It sure beats riding a motor scooter in the rain. It looks about as safe as the Xebra I test drove a couple months ago. It was $12,000 here in San Diego. We just don't get much for our money in economy vehicles here. I would prefer the Smart diesel they sell in Canada. They get an honest 70 MPG.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Alamogordo, NMMember Posts: 7,615
    if you drive over 44 mph consistently. But then again maybe there's not room enough to exceed 44 mph, so what's not to like here? Better than bikin' in the rain, indeed.

    2011 Kia Soul Sport 5-speed

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    It occurred to me that Indian motorists might be better served if a well financed company imported 10 year old, structurally sound economy cars (Corollas, Sentras, Civics, Escorts, Golfs, Cavaliers, Neons, Fiats, Renaults, you name it) from the U.S. and Europe, reconditioned them, using low wage Indian labor, and resold them for $2,500-$3,000. These cars would be roomier, more comfortable, safer, and probably more durable than the Nano.

    Just a thought.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    will come with a Red dot between the headlights. ;)
  • irnmdnirnmdn Member Posts: 245
    It occurred to me that Indian motorists might be better served if a well financed company imported 10 year old, structurally sound economy cars (Corollas, Sentras, Civics, Escorts, Golfs, Cavaliers, Neons, Fiats, Renaults, you name it)

    Which one of the cars mentioned above gets 50mpg?
  • irnmdnirnmdn Member Posts: 245
    will come with a Red dot between the headlights.
    As much as F150 king ranch edition comes with a factory fitted confederate flag on the front grill.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    "Which one of the cars mentioned above gets 50mpg?"

    None of the cars I mentioned gets 50 mpg, of course. You make a good point, but speaking of gas mileage, 50 mpg doesn't sound too impressive from a two cylinder engine in a feather weight body.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    My SIL has a Yamaha motorcycle with about that much HP and he rarely gets over 40 MPG. That to me is what made the CRX HF such a dynamite car. Fun and great mileage. Nothing like it today.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    If the Nano, modified to meet our safety standards, were offered in North America for, say, $3000, and $3300 with A/C, would you consider buying one? How about as a substitute for a $3,000-$3,300 used car?
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    I would consider one without all the safety crap and AC for $3000. It would make a nice car to run to the store. I looked at an EV for $13k with less safety and no AC. At 50 MPG I could go 125,000 miles on the $10k difference even with $4 per gallon gas. I will not live long enough to put 125k miles on a runabout car. Unless I live to 94 years of age and still driving 12 miles per day 365 days a year. Not very likely scenario.

    PS
    I would not drive it on the freeway anymore than I would a Yaris.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,702
    probably not.

    As someone else indicated, there are plenty of used cars for $3k that I would probably rather have and enjoy more.

    The only advantages I could see here would be good mileage and maybe a warranty. (??)
    But just because something is "New" doesn't necessarily make it better than something "old".

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • irnmdnirnmdn Member Posts: 245
    , there are plenty of used cars for $3k that I would probably rather have and enjoy more.

    Since you are considering used cars, how about pre-owned Nano for $1k? That leaves enough money to fillup for the next three years.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    ...even po' folks like to be stylin' and profilin'! I think a nice used car would be more attractive than some new car that simply screams, "Look at me! I'm poor!" Manufacturers of cars like Crosley and the Henry J found that out over 50 years ago. I guess you could sell a Nano to a guy who doesn't car about image or is a real tightwad. The miser market is pretty small. "Congratulations on your new Nano, Mr. Scrooge!"
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,702
    You bring up an interesting question. Resale value. Gotta wonder how these things will stack up against ... oh, I dunno, something like a 100k mile government owned Crown Vic? I have watched dozens of these go at public auction for $1k-$1500. I'm pretty sure I'd still choose that over a 30k-mile $1k used Nano.

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    "...I'm pretty sure I'd still choose that over a 30k-mile $1k used Nano."

    Given the vast difference in fuel economy, among other things, isn't this an apples and oranges comparison?
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,702
    at this pricepoint, there is no "apples to apples."

    And the point is precisely that many buyers would give up something like mileage to avoid a crappy car.

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • tgkoenigseggtgkoenigsegg Member Posts: 52
    This car appeals to no one on no levels, except someone who wants a cheap funeral! It has no rear seat belts, airbags, it likely uses low quality steel, it is a tall, small wheel vehicle, it is built with no passion. Id doesn't go over 45 mph, belts need to be replaced if you go over 40 mph for ling periods of time, it only has 33 hp.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    What did you expect for $2500, a Porsche Carrera? It is fine for what it was designed for. It is meant to give folks riding a bike a cheap car for the whole family to ride in. It will probably never see our shores. It will sell like Tandoori chicken in India.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    ...it will sell in India and other emerging markets. It just won't sell in the North American market, not well at least. I can see a few ultra-cheapskates or eccentrics buy one, but that's it.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    If you think about it, you cannot buy a decent motor scooter in the US for much less than $2500. I think a Honda motor scooters start at $2000 and go to over $8000. If I lived anywhere that it rained a lot the Nano would be preferable to a motor bike. I think it rains a lot in India.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    The idea of the Nano as an alternative to the scooter is one of the key considerations Tata had in mind. In addition to being better in the rain, the Nano would also be preferable in cold weather, or for the times you want to carry more than one passenger and/or some luggage. That said, the Nano may be too basic for the U.S. and Canada markets. There probably would be a market for the Nano in Mexico, which is also in North America, and in other countries of Latin America.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    I don't see it as any less safe than most of the NEVs being sold in this country for $10k plus. I would imagine getting them clean enough for the EPA would more than double the price. I can see them selling millions in 3rd world countries. Putting a further demand on oil supplies.
  • michaellnomichaellno Member Posts: 4,300
    Sorry, when I hear that name, all I can think of is Robin Williams as Mork saying "Nanu, nanu!".

    Couldn't resist.

    I see the Nano as the second coming of the Model T ... transportation for the masses.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 22,126

    I see the Nano as the second coming of the Model T ...


    It's probably the third or fourth coming of the Model T. Cars like the Citroen 2CV, the Fiat Topolino and the VW Bug brought cheap auto transportation to Europe after WWII.

    Interestingly the Tata Nano has a lower HP rating and top speed than my 40hp '65 Bug which could do 70mph all day long if the terrain was flat but India probably has few roads that would allow even a Jag to hit 70.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • irnmdnirnmdn Member Posts: 245
    It has no rear seat belts
    How many Americans wear rea seat belts?

    Considering Vespa Scooters sell for $4000+, the is quite a bargain. It is more fuel efficient to boot.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,702
    How many Americans wear rea seat belts?

    I would hope ALL parents make their kids wear seatbelts in the back, at the very least!

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Member Posts: 1,289
    Remember the Yugo? $3500 back in the late 80's. That wasn't much either. Some of you seem to be comparing it to Porsche's etc. $2,500 is $2,500. You can only get soo much for the price of some refrigerators in the US. it's basic transportation! It is meant to get you someone from point A to B with as little frills as possible and with exceptional gas mileage. Of course American's won't buy it! Duh, tell us something we don't already know as Americans! We only buy gas guzzling SUVs! And then we whine and moan and complain about future gas price increases because of cars like the Nano may get hundreds of thousand of people into cars!

    This is the way cars need to go again. Lighter weight, smaller would be great in this country also. Maybe $10 per gallon gas will help?
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,702
    a dotted line does not necessarily exist between lightweight/small and cheap. A Lotus Elise is one of the lightest cars being currently produced. It ain't cheap!

    To be safe AND light AND sufficiently powered takes money!

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
  • netranger4netranger4 Member Posts: 149
    Back in the mid-fifties there were several companies exporting tiny cars. Maico, Messerschmitt and BMW. The two Isetta models were more popular than the Maico and Messerschmitt. There may have been more which I'm not aware of. These little guys had small engines..very small engines and were not sold in overwhelming quantities. At that time the Fiat 500 was also on sale. Again not a howling success.

    Putting such a small car on the streets here in the US would be questionable given the size of the vehicles already in use. As strictly a city car, restricted to surface streets only it might have a niche. It surely would increase parking spaces by a magnitude of X.

    It's doubtful that it would win any prizes in the stoplight grand prix or challenge the boy racers in their coffee canned (otherwise stock) Honda Civic hatchbacks.

    Given the American motorists' mentality which is just now being conditioned to accept "B" class vehicles it seems like a long shot for Tata Motors to even consider a move on this side of the Atlantic with the Nano.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    I cannot imagine Tata wasting the time and money trying to sell in our over regulated society. They have a billion potential customers in their own country to sell to. India also has some interesting small EVs coming out, if not already on sale there. I don't believe you can build a small car like that and get it past all the regulations here. Has Zap been able to sell the Smart here yet? I dare say it is a lot safer in a crash than the Nano. Problem with the Smart is it is about $20k plus and only gets 35 MPG or something like that. The Smart sold in Canada gets 70 MPG on diesel. Something we will not get in the USA.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Its first-time-ever presence at the '08 Geneva Auto Show, displaying the Nano, and its imminent purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, raises the question of whether Tata Motors is laying the ground work to transform itself from a little noticed niche player into one of the world's biggest auto manufacturers in the next ten years.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 22,126
    Rumor has it Tata may not have the financing to pull off the Jag/LR deal. Meanwhile it's silly to talk about the Nano in terms of it's suitability for our roads, it's intended as an alternative to motor scooter, bicycles or even walking. Traversing the poor roads and crowded cities of India is probably dangerous no matter what vehicle you employ.

    If it was me I'd use one of these>image 2008 Howdah. :shades:

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    Yeah, and she gets 40 miles to the bag of peanuts, however the emissions are awful!
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    ...visited the Tata Motors exhibit at the '08 Geneva Auto Show to check out the Nano. This included Rick Waggoner of GM and leaders of executives from Nissan-Renault, BMW and Fiat, according to the Detroit Free Press. This is an indication that Tata and the Nano are being taken or, at a minimum, that the company and its newest model aren't being ignored. By contrast, most of Detroit's Big Three execs once ignored and derided the VW Beetle and, later, the early Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas imports. I don't think any of them today would respond "A used Buick" to a reporter's question, "What is your answer to the low cost Japanese cars", as Roger Smith of GM did in the '70s (I may not have quoted the wording of the Q & A precisely).
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    The low price of the nano inevitably draw comparisons with what kind of car one can buy in this country for $2,500 (please refer to Steve Thompson's article in AutoWeek). Steve's conclusion, as I interpret it, is that we're lucky, in that our $2,500 used cars offer a good alternative to the Nano.

    Of course it's an academic comparison, since, (A) there are no plans to offer the Nano in the US, and (B) the Nano would cost more than $2,500 if it had to comply with our safety and emissions standatrds. I find it an interesting comparison, even if it's kind of an an apples and oranges comparison.

    Would you prefer to own a new federalized Nano for, say, $3,000, just to pick a number, or a $3,000 Corrolla, Civic, Miata, or whatever? While the Nano looks intriguing, I think I'd choose a used something else. Maybe even a '00 or '01 Intrigue.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 29,702
    Steve's conclusion, as I interpret it, is that we're lucky, in that our $2,500 used cars offer a good alternative to the Nano.

    Which is the same thing some of us have previously stated in this very topic. :)

    '21 Wrangler 4xE, '07 ML63, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '14 Town&Country Limited. 55-car history and counting!

  • british_roverbritish_rover Member Posts: 8,457
    IIRC they paid Cash for Corus and that was a much larger nut then the 2-3 billion Land Rover/Jag are. They paid nearly 8 billion Corus two years ago but if I understand it correctly the Tata conglomerates separates the finances of its various subsidiaries. Tata steel is much larger then Tata motors so it had 8 billion dollars to spend on Corus while Tata Motors doesn't have 3 billion to spend on Jag/LR without raiding the big piggy bank that is Tata holding.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    According to Wikipedia the LR/Jag takeover is a done deal this month. They are a pretty big company. What I find ironic is an Indian company taking over all these huge British companies. Kind of a switch.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    An article in the New York Times suggests the following:

    "The wonderful era of the ultra cheap car — the People’s Car! — could be over before it’s begun. Introduced to great international fanfare in January at the New Delhi Auto Show, the Tata Nano was heralded as the great hope for the Indian middle class. A bare-bones sedan with a 623-cc engine, the Nano was promised to sell for only $2,500. It was going to get Indians off their scooters and into cars. But that was before prices for steel and other raw materials began to climb — and climb and climb.

    From the Times of London:
    Ratan Tata, the chairman of Tata, has admitted that he faces a dilemma. “If we pass on all costs to the consumer, it will affect demand, and if we don’t, it will affect margins,” he told investors recently. The economics underpinning the Nano, which is due to go on sale this autumn, make it especially vulnerable to commodity market moves."

    I found this very interesting, but not too surprising. $2500 sounds just too good to be true for a new car, even a minamalist micro car produced with cheap labor. It'll be interesting to see where the Nano goes from here.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaMember Posts: 31,450
    What is interesting is Tata also bought Corus the huge British steel producer. I think that makes Tata one of the largest steel producers in the World. I agree that building a car and selling it for $2500 in this world economy seems nearly impossible. Then with the price of gas they will be hard pressed to afford to drive it. I would be surprised if it gets better than 50 MPG in real life driving.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    "NEW DELHI-- The chairman of the Tata Group threatened today to move an important auto factory out of India's West Bengal state because of violent farmer protests and strong political opposition, a move that could delay the debut of the world's cheapest car."

    Just a week ago we read that the Nano will probably miss its prce target, and now we learn that production may be delayed yet again.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    "NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Tata Motors will proceed with its plans to build a plant for its ultra-low-budget Nano car in eastern India, after talks yielded a compromise ending violent protests against the factory, Agence-France Presse reported Sunday, citing officials."

    News about the Nano doesn't matter to American motorists, but it may matter in the future if the Nano becomes the world's spiritual successor to the Model T or the VW Beetle.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    With the U.S. in recession that some say could be the deepest and longest in 70 years, would there be an opportunity for one of the Detroit 3 to work out an arrangement with Tata Motors to import rebadged Nanos? Supposing they could be modified to meet U.S. safety and emissions requirements, and sold for, say, $3,999, and $4,499 with A/C.

    I think there might be a niche market here for such a car for local driving and short commutes. Of course, that name would have to be replaced with something more appealing to Americans.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    "The Formula 1 tie-up between Ferrari and Tata has made headlines, but it is actually just a more high-profile continuation of a relationship already in place."

    lFerrari Increases Link to India's Tata as Situation Worsens in Industry (Inside Line)

    image
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Well, yes and no. Yes, if you consider the Nano to be the polar opposite of Ferrari cars. No, if you consider that since Tata now owns Jaguar and Land Rover, why not a tie up with Ferrari?
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,457
    It's just going to strike a lot of people funny to see a Tata sponsor logo on a Ferrari. But we used to laugh at VW "lawnmower" bugs and tinny Datsuns too.

    You have to wonder how well Tata can afford the tie-in though.

    Tata may have to invest $1billion in Land Rover and Jaguar
  • maltaflymaltafly Member Posts: 1
    You guys have never tried a Tata before. They are one of the strongest vehicles I know. In Malta (europe) they are the 6th most sold vehicles on the road and they have a 0 death record so far since 1992. I am sure the Nano is no less than the other models Tata offers.
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