Saturday, January 12, 2008

India Introduces the Nano, an Ultra-Cheap Automobile

By MSN Money staff and wire reports

India's Tata Motors today unveiled the Nano, its much-anticipated $2,500 car, an ultracheap price tag that brings car ownership into the reach of tens of millions of people.

Company Chairman Ratan Tata, introducing the Nano during India's main auto show in New Delhi, drove onto a stage in a white version of the tiny four-door subcompact, his head nearly touching the roof.

With a snub nose and a sloping roof, the world's cheapest car can hold five people -- if they squeeze. And the basic version is spare: There's no radio, no air bags, no passenger-side mirror and only one windshield wiper. If you want air conditioning to cope with India's brutal summers, you need to get the deluxe version.

At 10 feet long, the Nano is about 2 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper. Its 623-cubic-centimeter two-cylinder engine is estimated to produce about 35 horsepower, good for a top speed of 75 mph.

Though the price has created a buzz, critics say the Nano could lead to possibly millions more automobiles hitting already clogged Indian roads, adding to mounting air and noise pollution. Others have said Tata (TTM, news, msgs) will have to sacrifice quality and safety standards to meet the target price.

No comments: