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"A penny for your thoughts"

Monday, March 10, 2008

World's cheapest car

Tata Nano

Tata Motors Ltd unleash the 4-seater Nano, with an engine around 625cc, will have a dealer price of 100,000 rupees ($2,500) -- about half the cost of the cheapest car on today's market, a 25-year old model from rival Maruti Suzuki. It has no air conditioning, no electric windows and no power steering, but two deluxe models will be on offer. The car would have a rear-mounted engine and travel 20 km per litre.

Environmental critics have said that the car will lead to mounting air and pollution problems on India's already clogged roads.But Tata said the car had passed emission standards and would average about 50 miles to the gallon, or five litres per hundred kilometres.

The car arrives at a time when oil has topped $100 a barrel, the move to fuel-efficient "green" cars is gaining momentum, and a wave of nostalgia has spurred sales of brands such as BMW's Mini and the Fiat 500 Cinquecento.

Global car makers -- initially sceptical that Tata could produce such a low-cost car -- are now scurrying to make their own versions to meet the needs of cost-conscious consumers in emerging economies such as China, India and Russia.

Ford this week said it would build a small car in India within two years, while the alliance of Nissan Motor and Renault, which has made a big success of its no-frills Logan sedan, plans a $3,000 car with Bajaj Auto.

Volkswagen, Toyota, Honda and Fiat have also said they are looking at small cars for emerging markets where strong economic growth has made car ownership a reality for millions.

With just 8 people in 1,000 owning a car in India, there is huge potential to upgrade bike and scooter owners, who bought about 7 million two-wheelers in 2006/07.

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