Tata’s Nano – world’s cheapest car rolls out into Indian market

Daylife/AP Photo

India’s Tata Motors will launch its extra-cheap 10 feet (3 metres) long Nano car in Mumbai on Monday, selling for 100,000 rupees or $1,979. It will enable poorer citizens in developing countries to move to four wheels for the first time.

The four-door five-seater car has a 33bhp, 624cc engine at the rear. It has no airbags, air conditioning, radio, or power steering.

There are about 4 stories here. The BBC article [above] wanders off into worrying about the recession. Which accomplishes little.

I’ve posted about the Nano a few times in the past – telling of the run-up to production. Here and here. Here’s the newest I chose to add today because it offers a first-person response to the car:

For the last 40 years, Gopal Pandurang has lived a life without many luxuries.

He has worked as a chauffeur for top businessmen in Pune and Mumbai – ferrying them around the country, to important meetings in big, fancy and expensive cars.

He has sat behind the wheels of dozens of cars, from an old British Morris to the Land Rover he’s driving now.

It’s been an honest, hardworking life – albeit austere.

The salary of a driver in India can only afford you so much. Mr Pandurang has worked hard to support his family – putting his children in English language schools, so that they would get opportunities he never had.

He’s never been the kind of man to want anything for himself, working night and day to feed his family instead. But throughout his life, he has had one dream: to own a car of his own.

“I have driven so many cars, so many different cars, in my three decades as a driver,” he tells me as we cruise around Mumbai’s glittering Marine Drive promenade in his boss’s Land Rover.

“I’ve spent my whole life driving people around in air conditioned comfort to wherever they want to go. But when my family wants to go out on the weekend, we can’t all go together.

“How do you fit four adults on a motorcycle? We have to take the bus, which is very uncomfortable”.

“My wife is getting old, and she can’t do the things she used to when she was younger like sit on a bike or a crowded bus. I just want to be able to take her out for a drive in a car. My own car.”

Over the decades I’ve known the occasional political sectarian who whines that the working poor of this world shouldn’t have washing machines, vacations at the seashore, an automobile – because those are simply objects of greed borrowed from the ruling class of whichever nation. The struggle for a better life – for them – is a religion. Regardless of extending people’s lives from less toil and worry.

Today, we mostly find that class of sectarian jerk among enviros who have learned that science and technology have solved many of the problems they fear – when you tear it away from dark masters [I guess]. But, people can’t be trusted enough to allow too many creature comforts because we, the people, will forget about the environment, the Earth and the Goddess Mother Brittany. Well, maybe, not the last.

Coming from the streets of a down-at-heel factory town, I want folks to have all the options. There’s nothing about wanting to have a smallish pickup truck [diesel-powered, please] that will interfere with my equal longing for an electric vehicle for my wife to commute to her job in town. I still want to get off the grid and tell our power monopoly to go screw themselves. But, we heat our home with a renewable resource – wood. And I need the truck for gathering it.

Personally, I can’t wait until Mr. Pandurang gets his Nano. Should be a hell of a smile.

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