Tata Unveils the Nano

by Sachin Balagopalan on January 11, 2008 · 3 comments

I just returned from India after spending a week there and I can tell you first hand that the buzz all last week was the anticipated unveiling of the worlds cheapest car - the Tata Nano for a mere $2500. The New York times today has an article on the “Nano” ( Steve Jobs is probably contemplating a law suit right now :) ) and it brings to light how important this event is to India.

“Today, we indeed have a People’s Car, which is affordable and yet built to meet safety requirements and emission norms, to be fuel efficient and low on emissions,” Mr. Tata added. “We are happy to present the People’s Car to India and we hope it brings the joy, pride and utility of owning a car to many families who need personal mobility.”

It is important to remember India with it’s population of over a billion people is an emerging nation with an ever growing middle class pulling itself up the economic ladder by the bootstraps. If you have ever traveled in India you know how chaotic the traffic can be, not to mention the pollution both noise (due to the perpetual blaring of car horns) and due to the lack of emissions control. It is indeed an adventure to be on the roads in India regardless if you’re a pedestrian, on two wheels or a motorist. I like to call it “organized chaos” because in spite of the madness people seem to get to where they are going unscathed and in one piece. While owning a car (or two) here in the U.S. is a necessity and normal for most of us, in India it’s still a huge deal especially amongst the middle class. In a nation that predominantly relies on auto rickshaws, buses and trains to get around, owning a car in India marks a rite of passage and typically signifies that you have “made it” economically. Therefore a car for 100,000 rupees or $2500 dollars will enable more people to afford a car and attain that rite of passage sooner than later.

Good for India!


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cody 01.11.08 at 8:08 am

That car is way, way too small for me. Now, I’m not the type to drive a Hummer (heck, even small trucks are too big for me), but look at the tires on that thing! The tires on my lawnmower are bigger.

$2500 is indeed cheap for a production car, but I think I’ll go for something that, while more expensive, at least comes with a stereo. It’s good for the Indian market, perhaps, but small cars have yet to really catch on in the States.

mbjesq 01.11.08 at 10:47 pm

The “people’s car” is a wonderful example of India’s mid-20st Century mindset and its squandered chance at 21st Century development. My short essay on this can be read at


listen_to_sachin 01.14.08 at 10:39 pm

This is definitely going to spur development of infrastructure in that country. I know a lot of people who have travelled to Bangalore and they weren’t very please with the traffic, to put it most mildly ;)

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