It’s here. The world’s cheapest car. More symbol than product, more ideal than industry, over 6 months late and yet a decade early (for India), The Tata Nano.
The car that sat idling at the eye of a tumultous storm in West Bengal, and did more to showcase the contradictions of India in its abrupt cross country journey to Gujarat than any Discovery Channell documentary, the car that people said could not exist, should not exist, (and for the west, was daft to try) is here.
CAR magazine has a first ride.
Some points I want to address:
1. Congestion. I disagree with the notion that its going to make the road congestion problem worse. It’s not. In India, driving a car requires more lane discipline and a more conservative approach than a 100cc motorbike. Sure, the per-capita-road-volume-occupancy is going to go up, but its also going to get a lot more orderly.
2. Pollution. Again, no. If the stats are anything to go by, the Nano is impressively clean. In the long term, it will take a lot of non-mass-public-transport (aka autos and taxis) off the road, as well as motorcycles. Along with the at-long-last adoption of subways and metros by India (done in New Delhi, hopefully will happen one day in Bangalore), will eventually do good for overall vehicular emissions.
I do have 2 reservations on it. I’m not sure how ready India is , economically or socially for the mass adoption of four wheelers. Whethers its the adequate training and responsible granting of licenses to people, the ability of people to abruptly replace their 60,000 motorcycle with a 1,30,000 car and the other financial burdens that come with it (service, maintenance, parking fees..) is a genuine cause for concern.
Another problem I have is the woeful lack of power the car has. Surely, the experience of the m800 should prove that a certain minimum power and acceleration is needed, at least to overtake a bus if nothing else?