October 16, 2012
Tata Nano Wants To Bring Tiny Cars To A Bigger Market
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Cars are expensive, sure, but do they really have to be?
Considering the fact that, for many years, car makers were building these vehicles to be somewhat “disposable” — used for a few years then traded or sold for the newest model — it would seem as if the price of automobiles should reflect this trend.
The US Auto industry may be turning from this trend, but one Indian automaker took it on themselves a few years ago to create the world´s cheapest car, coming in at just under three grand in American dollars.
Tata´s Nano is a 10-foot long, 4-door car which has not been warmly embraced by the Indian community, due to some minor issues, such as the lack of a heater, no cup holders and occasionally exploding engines.
As of April 2012, only 175,000 people had purchased a Tata Nano of their very own. And in a country of 1.2 billion people, 175,000 is a number almost as small as the Nano itself.
Undeterred by slow sales, Tata has announced they plan to expand into the American and UK markets in the next 3 years, according to Automotive News.
"The US is a very enticing market," said Ratan Tata, billionaire boss at Tata Group, in an interview with Automotive News.
"We are redesigning the Nano for both Europe and the U.S."
According to Mr. Tata, the American Nano will be more “sophisticated” than the current, mildly flammable Indian model. This will include having a larger engine (the current model is powered by a 37 hp two-cylinder motor) as well as more “bells and whistles” like airbags and power steering, two features that the current Nano does not offer.
As Tata currently has no presence in the U.S. market, Mr. Tata said it was too soon to say where daring and thrifty Americans would be able to purchase one of these little Indian automotive marvels.
According to Automotive News, the Nano was originally designed to be an alternative to India´s ubiquitous scooter. The tiny auto measures 2 feet shorter than fellow small car, the Mini Cooper. Though Tata aims at making the world´s cheapest car, the company is also partially responsible for making some of the world´s most expensive autos, as Tata´s company also owns Jaguar and Land Rover. Mr. Tata says a car priced below the $10,000 price range would kill in America — pun not intended.
"The Smart and the Fiat 500 have high sticker prices, and people buy them because they are small cars," said Mr. Tata at a Jaguar-Land Rover dealership opening event.
"But everyone knows you put a lot of money into it. We hope that the sub-$10,000 car has appeal."
After all the “bells and whistles” are installed (as well as other safety equipment which are required in the driver-friendly U.S.), a Tata Nano could come in under the 10K mark at around $8,000, says Mr. Tata. Currently, America´s cheapest cars are the Nissan Versa at $11,750 and the Hyundai Accent at $13,205.
When asked, the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North Andy Goss distanced himself from the Nano, saying there were no plans to sell this tiny car at his dealerships.
There will be one clear benefit if the Nano manages to ship to Europe and the US: The quality television that will ensue once the hosts of BBC´s Top Gear get a hold of the tiny auto.