As one of the most progressive companies on earth, the Tata group has decided to take on the international motor industry. It has come up with the idea of a pocket-sized $2.500 priced automobile, the four wheeled version of the $100 computer. Its name is NANO.
Appropriately called the “People’s Car”, (not, however for the likes of the People’s Princess, the late Princess Diana who preferred her Bentley) Mr. Tata says that the Nano has its origins in Calcutta rickshaw cabbies and a very Indian scenario of scooters with four family members perched on top, but Tata has been careful to avoid giving the Nano the image of an auto rickshaw or a four wheel scooter. The aim was to produce a proper car that will take four or five people in all weather conditions to where they want to go, running on regular fuel and not some exotic fuel. It is even aimed at anyone who is to be found riding a bike; on the other hand, more affluent families may want to have one in addition to their sedans or SUV´s.
The very thought of the Nano puts shudders up the spines of General Motors and Ford executives and even has Honda and Toyota wondering what their next move should be. Not even the about to be launched Uruguay assembled Chinese Chery is being marketed just on its price merits in one of the major emerging markets, Brazil, because it actually will cost about the same as a lower end price range establishment car.
Tata is not the first company to think up the idea of globalizing a really cheap car. In the early 1990´s, many São Paulo taxi drivers turned to the Lada which was one of the first to export sardine-can type cars from Russia. They were considered a step up from the VW and Fiat compacts because they had 4 doors. KIA Motors was one of the most popular exports to Brazil in the mid- 1990´s especially the utility van called the Besta, (which in Portuguese means “dumb or thick”). Then the Yugo appeared out of nowhere from the Balkans but the war stopped it in its tracks...
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