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Tata Nano Standard, in "Dazzling Red"

Tata Nano Luxury, in "Lime Yellow"

A minimalist interior is the order of the day for the Nano, as this dash shot and cutaway shows.
The "People's Car" gets 54mpg, seats five.

While there is no shortage of news from the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the Auto Expo in New Delhi, India featured a unique new vehicle that might interest North American buyers wary of high gas prices -- and high vehicle prices as well. Tata Motors unveiled its interpretation of the "People's Car" -- a phrase that until now was the exclusive domain of German automobiles -- the $2,500 Nano.

With a length of just over ten feet, the Nano makes current "sub-compact" cars like the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris look like a 1980s-era Cadillac from the outside -- but nearly all of the interior space is devoted to the passenger compartment. Tata claims that the vehicle can seat five passengers, but the rear seat would undoubtedly become cramped, as the Nano is only a hair less than five feet wide. A highway trip would be a painful exercise, but Tata is targeting the car as an all-weather replacement for the motorbikes commonly used for family transit, so shorter trips with more passengers might be tolerable.

Power from the Nano comes from a rear-mounted 624cc two-cylinder SOHC engine, which produces approximately 33hp at 5500rpm, and 35lb-ft of torque at 2500rpm. Mated to a four-speed manual transmission and driving the rear wheels only, the Nano is in no rush to reach high speeds -- in fact, the more common 0-60 time was replaced by a "0-43" time of 14 seconds. The time to reach the stated maximum speed of 68mph was not given. This slow acceleration does let the Nano achieve excellent mileage -- estimates are 50mpg city and 60mpg highway. While other cars have exceeded these numbers, they don't share the Nano's low cost of entry.

The Nano will be available in two trim levels, "Standard" and "Luxury." The "Standard" is truly spartan, with vinyl seats, a single-color interior, black plastic bumpers and not much else. The "Luxury" lives up to its name by comparison, offering a list of features such as:

  • Body-colored bumpers
  • Fog lamps
  • Power door locks
  • Power mirrors
  • Air conditioning and heater
  • Dual-color interior
  • Fabric seats   

The sticker price for the Luxury model has not yet been announced. In addition to the two model choices, the Tata Nano microsite offers a range of accessories that can be viewed from the car builder, including pin striping decals, a choice of air scoop for the rear-mounted engine, and alloy wheels.

Despite the Nano's diminutive size, Tata is confident that it will be a safe vehicle, stating that it passes all current safety standards. With over 22,000 employees, a target production run of 250,000 units per year, and recent talks of purchasing Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, Tata Motors could very well make this pocket-sized commuter car a reality in North America.

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Not really animed at Americans...
By Combatcolin on 1/10/2008 1:10:24 PM , Rating: 2
Considering most Americans couldn't even get into this car even if they wanted to i dought it will ever be released in the States.

Would be a near perfect city though though.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By TomZ on 1/10/2008 1:15:11 PM , Rating: 2
My prediction - you heard it here first - ultra low-cost cars from India, China, etc. will be brought to America and will fundamentally change the "traditional" auto market from what it is today. Stay tuned...

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By rudy on 1/11/2008 8:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
Why? They already exist over in most of asia, nothing needs to be done to bring them here except pop them on a boat, so why has it not already happened? Read my above post, the person in the largest vehicle wins in a collision and while few admit it, it drives buying choices. Also when people are set to choose a car they will usually choose extra space in case they may ever need it. I don't need anything more then a basic 4 door normally. But I buy a truck for the times I can use it to haul things. Too much is a safer bet then to little. You just pay extra in gas.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By Chris Peredun on 1/10/2008 1:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps, like the smart fortwo , the car will be beta-tested in "America's Hat" first - and if interest is high enough, it will come south.

Whether or not it can meet NA crash standards is another matter entirely.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By TomZ on 1/10/2008 1:29:29 PM , Rating: 2
There's no chance it can meet US standards and regulations at that price point - impossible.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By eye smite on 1/10/2008 1:48:13 PM , Rating: 2
Don't think that it won't if tata is looking at buying jaguar and land rover from ford. They'll get a wealth of knowledge from that. I'd buy one, I'm tired of paying $3 a gallon for gas. Why not have a car that goes 500 miles on one tank.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By Chris Peredun on 1/10/2008 1:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
Why not have a car that goes 500 miles on one tank.

With a four-gallon tank, it won't be this one. Perhaps I can interest you in a Honda Civic VX - 57mpg city, 66mpg highway - and a massive-by-comparison 1.5L engine making a "mighty" 102hp?

If you're lucky, you might even find one in good shape for the Nano's $2,500 sticker price.

By crystal clear on 1/10/2008 2:34:41 PM , Rating: 1
Is this a refined version of the famous "Rickshaw" you see in India-you know those 3 wheelers .....

If you happen to be in India take a ride in the rickshaw....
some experience indeed.

By Davelo on 1/10/2008 5:40:27 PM , Rating: 2
I used to have one of those Honda Civic VX cars. Not a bad little dude. The tranny had real tall gears. It was hard to get rolling but once you got the RPMs up it would go like a scalded cat. You could hit 60 mph in 2nd gear!

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By dubldwn on 1/10/2008 2:14:28 PM , Rating: 1
Many of us wouldn’t buy this vehicle because of our interest in self-respect, appropriate levels of safety, appreciation for ascetics, desire for performance, and the ability to purchase a much more substantial vehicle that gets reasonable gas milage. For city driving I would buy golf cart before I bought this because I would feel better about myself and there’s significant humor value. You have to draw the line somewhere, and the line is far above the Nano.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By kkwst2 on 1/10/2008 9:14:11 PM , Rating: 4
"Appreciation of ascetics" and "desire for performance" seem to be mutually exclusive. Perhaps if your vocabulary were larger than your pride, you wouldn't turn your nose. There are many people whose self-worth isn't defined by what they drive that would be interested in a frugal car such as this. You might realize this if you really had an "appreciation of ascetics." :)

(I'm assuming you meant aesthetics.)

By dubldwn on 1/10/2008 9:38:44 PM , Rating: 1
Ha! Nice catch! The irony is killing me! I'm assuming the rest of your post is a joke (like the Nano) and you, like me, wouldn't be caught dead in one of these (pardon the pun)!

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By TomZ on 1/10/2008 2:22:35 PM , Rating: 3
Don't think that it won't if tata is looking at buying jaguar and land rover from ford.

Meeting US safety standards is not limited by knowledge; it's limited by the cost in this case. US regulations are very expensive to implement - they add a lot of cost to cars today - specifically material costs. And there have been many very smart people working on cutting those costs where possible for many years.

By murphyslabrat on 1/11/2008 4:21:36 PM , Rating: 2
Well, then I hope that they either find a way to do it, or sell them in America as toys or scooters.

I ride a bycicle as my primary transportation, and that does get quite tiring at times. For $2,500 I could get an O.K. used car, certainly one that's better than this one, but this is $2,500 for a new car.

With speed limits (in the USA) of 70MPH on the highway, and 25MPH in residential/40MPH in rural or on main roads, we don't need cars that can top out at 180MPH. Even 120MPH is quite excessive. However, we Americans (gosh isn't that an ethnocentric name) are a very hype-driven people. Even if we never exceed 80MPH, most wouldn't look twice at a car unable to hit 120MPH. Even if the lowered acceleration rates only added 5 minutes to every hour's city-driving, we wouldn't look twice at it.

I don't know much about cars, but I know oodles about PC's; and I see the same trends there. I barely kept my cool with the last customer who insisted that the Radeon 2600 was better than the GeForce 7900, based solely on pipelines(they equated that with stream processors) and dx10 support.

While power is nice to have, it is ridiculous to demand power far in excess of anything you will ever use, especially when that ignorance is driving up entry-level prices for me.

In case you hadn't guessed, I think that this car and the EEE PC (and this new CloudBook) are a great gain for consumers. The only problem is when they start demanding performance levels belonging to higher classes out of these products.

Let's hear it for the consumer!

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By cochy on 1/10/2008 2:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
America's Hat

Ha. Are you talking about Canada? Never heard that one before. Funny Americans.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By christojojo on 1/10/2008 3:35:43 PM , Rating: 2
if he was referring to Canada he would have said...

America's back up army (no, no, never would be believed)

America's gorgeous neighbor (no, still not right)

America's doughnut stand (maybe, if he was referring to Canada's only worth while export. See I even ignored that funny thing sticking out of the shuttle. ;) )

America's number one ballet destination

(well at least my mother now has a place to work (eeeewww))

Yes Canada's motto is

"Canada supplying Ugly American with vices since .... a shit I should have gone to the University"

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By Oroka on 1/10/2008 4:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
or maybe

"those American's up north that wont shoot my ass with a semi-automatic assault rifle"


"those people up north who didnt vote a majority for Dubbya"

BTW, Canada dosent want your mom, we have a 16 tooth minumum.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By christojojo on 1/10/2008 4:48:16 PM , Rating: 2
for the last time P. M. Harper if you don't leave money leave my momma alone.

P.s. we did vote a mojority for Dubbya. Yep, each oil company has a million votes everyone else .0001.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By Darkskypoet on 1/10/2008 10:23:50 PM , Rating: 2
Those people up north that sell us a crap load of oil? Donuts... Ha. Ha. funny. Try your largest allied energy supplier. Oil, Electric, Natural Gas, etc.

Thank you for being able to remember we are that massive, larger landmass to the north of you. It's amazing how many Americans can't find us on the map.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By christojojo on 1/10/2008 10:33:17 PM , Rating: 2
Its not that we can find you its just that there is not real point. ;)

By christojojo on 1/10/2008 10:38:02 PM , Rating: 2
The one thing worse than insulting you is making errors in the insult.

Humbly yours,

From the fifty "thingies" that are full of "stupid mericans" that your country has made a sport making fun of. ;)

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By Zoomer on 1/10/2008 8:45:08 PM , Rating: 2
The New York Times stated that safety equipment in US cars costs about $2000. No chance, indeed.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By TomZ on 1/10/2008 8:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
That's probably just the "safety" standards. There are also emissions and diagnostics requirements that must be met for the US market, plus some other things I'm not even thinking about.

RE: Not really animed at Americans...
By AntiM on 1/10/2008 2:07:39 PM , Rating: 2
Look at it this way.... I would imagine that it could probably serve the needs of most Americans 50% of the time. I've always thought that I could use a scooter for most of my driving, which is mostly around the city. I wouldn't do it though, for fear of looking like a dork. If everyone had one of these and used it whenever possible instead of their "normal" vehicle, this country could cut its fuel consumption by 30% or more. That would be a significant decrease in demand. Although, I doubt most Americans would want to be seen in such a thing.

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