"It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family," stated Ratan Tata.
Tata Motors unveiled the answer to that question in New Delhi this week. The tiny "Nano" is priced at $2,500 and is being advertised as the affordable alternative to scooters and motorcycles for families in India.
There will be about 250,000 of these cute, more than tiny, 4-seater cars available for sale in India this years and Tata Motors has plans to market the cars in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America in the next few years. Tata Motors Chairman Ratan Tata had observed numerous families balenced precariously on two wheelers and haddeveloped the "Nano" in hopes of providing a cheap, safe mode of transportation for all weather.
In order to further lessen the cost of the "Nano", less materials were used in it's manufacture. Instead of having two windshield wipers, there is only one and Tata Motors states that their car meets all safety norms and all environmental criteria.
Critics state that you won't be seeing these tiny, toy-like cars on U S streets anytime soon, even if they manage to run at 54 mpg. They add that it is very doubtful that it could meet U S safety and environmental standards, partly because they feel that much has been left out of the car during manufacture. Even if it does meet some standards, environmentalists wonder how putting more cars on already congested roads would be helping the environment.
The "Nano" is listed as the "People's Car" in India, much as the Volkswagon Beetle had been designed during the days of Hitler. He had stated that he wanted a car that could carry two adults and three children at about 60 mph and was to be inexpensive, costing no more than a motorcycle.
In 1949, the "Beetle" came to the U S and had an expanded, 1131 cc engine capable of 25 mph and started without a crank. By 1961, the beloved "Beetle" had and engine capable of producing 34 hp, the speedometer had increased to 87 mph, a windshield-wiper washer system became available and a gas gauge had been added.
The cute "Nano" is listed as having a two-cylinder, 623 cc engine jammed under the hood which is almost comparable to the 2008 Honda Four Trax Rincon. That isn't Honda's new entry into the tiny car category, it's an off-road, 4 wheeler that has a four-stroke, single cylinder 675 cc engine powering it. Imagine then, taking that 4-wheeler and draping some fancy aluminum around it and then cutting out doors on it...... yup, that might just be a "Nano" !
While the "Nano" may be cute, easy to squeeze into a parking space and more affordable than most motorized modes of transportation............... it sounds far too much like a sardine can on wheels and possibly may be smaller than the keychain you could keep it on.