A few days ago, Tata Motors of India introduced the commercial version of the Nano, a tiny ten-foot-long five-foot-high compact car which the company hopes will revolutionize transportation not only in India, but in other parts of the world too. The car will sell for roughly 100,000 rupees ($1,979; £1,366) and goes on sale next month.
Part of the reason the Nano is so cheap is that it lacks many of the features that are standard on contemporary automobiles, such as airbags, a radio, air conditioning, power steering, or power windows. However, for all intents and purposes, the Nano should sell well in India, where many use motorcycles to get around. The Nano will be able to seat five people, including a driver, and can go up to 105km an hour (65mph), which will enable relatively fast, affordable transportation for singles and families alike not only through India’s massive urban sprawls, but through the country itself as well.
If this has begun to sound like an advertisement for the Nano, consider that we highlighted the efficiency of mass transit a month ago. The distinction between mass transit and the Nano is that the Nano offers a sense of privacy and comfort that can’t be found through mass transit systems, as well as a means to reach areas not serviced by mass transit systems. Plus, being able to transport 5 people as opposed to 2-3 on a motorcycle could be appealing to Indian citizens, who traditionally have large families.
What does this mean for the transportation industry? Who can say? The Nano isn’t expected to produce any profits for Tata for awile. However, given the positive outlook and preliminary reviews and demand, it is possible the Nano could revolutionize how Indians get around. Tata also plans to release a model of the car for European markets priced around £4,000, equipped with many of the standard features not included in the Indian model. If the Nano sells well in the Indian and European markets, expect to see a version developed for North American markets as well.