Tata to build the worlds cheapest house – for US$715

There is absolutely no doubt that the human condition thrives on challenge. Fresh from creating the world’s cheapest car, the US$2500 Tata Nano, Tata Corporation is now intending to create the world’s cheapest house.

The flat-roofed 20 sq meter house will cost $715, can be built in a week and came about from an aim to deliver a viable package for beneficiaries of the Indira Awaas Yojana shelter rehabilitation scheme in Tata’s native India. The scheme provides Rs 40,000 per house for people below the poverty line, scheduled castes and tribes, freed bonded laborers and ex-servicemen.

If Tata can hit its targets, the scheme will bring much greater access to shelter for millions of Indians. India is world’s second most populous nation with 1.21 billion people and it is growing at such a rate that it is expected to pass China by 2030. It has already surpassed China for the number of people who live in poverty (800 million people).

Utility can be inexpensive – no doubt. And kudos to Tata for trying on the project. Not exactly a corporate profit center.

How to get a wee snip of a car – in India

Indian health officials have taken an unusual step to slow the nation’s birth rate – offering prizes that include a car in return for being sterilised.

One lucky man or woman can win a free Tata Nano in exchange for ending their fertility.

The first person to volunteer for sterilisation in Jhunjhunu, west of New Delhi, will be given a Nano, the world’s cheapest car, with other prizes including motorcycles, televisions and food blenders…

Reports also suggest that those volunteering to give away their baby-making ability will be paid a cash incentive of Rs1000, and Rs200 to those who urged them to go under the knife.

The move comes as India tries to control its rapidly growing population, which a recent census estimating it at more than 1.21 billion people.

I guess I could say, “Times change.” When I got my vasectomy as a young man in a very Catholic state, the surgery had to be “underground” because it was illegal. As was the sale of contraceptives.

My urologist made me swear I’d tell folks I had it done in Rhode Island. 🙂

Thanks, Honeyman

Test-driving the Tata Nano – the world’s cheapest car

Click on the photo for the road test video
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Taking the world’s cheapest car out for its first public test drive by a journalist makes for a surprisingly smooth ride. Thrifty transport is not meant to be this comfortable. Tata’s Nano purrs from zero to 40mph in eight seconds and its gearbox changes with ease. The brakes are solid, bringing the car to halt smartly.

True, its 623cc engine whines a little like a blender when pushed to its top speed of 65mph and the body leans like the Tower of Pisa when cornering at speed. But the wheels will give out before you can tip the car over, the Guardian was assured by Tata engineers.

Built for functional frugality, the Nano is a striking if not a beautiful car. Flashing through the dusty streets outside the Tata plant in Pune, southern India, the Nano’s distinctive look turns heads. Many people, especially those who are riding motorbikes, break into smiles and thrust thumbs into the air when its jellybean shape appears.

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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.

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Tata announces new plant for Nano in Gujarat

Indian firm Tata Motors is to build the world’s cheapest car in the western state of Gujarat. Tata group chairman Ratan Tata said the Gujarat deal offered the best chance of making the car, the Nano, as quickly and cheaply as possible.

The move comes after Tata pulled out of its factory in West Bengal state in a row over land acquired from farmers.

The Nano is expected to cost about 100,000 rupees ($2,130) and was due to be launched this month.

“While awaiting the Sanand plant’s completion, Tata Motors will explore the possibility of manufacturing the Nano at its existing facilities at Pune and Pantnagar, and launch the car in the last quarter of this financial year.”

The Sanand plant will make 250,000 Nanos a year, rising to 500,000, the company says. It is not clear when production at the plant will begin.

The range of opposition to the Nano plant in West Bengal – from small tenant farmers to absentee landlords – displayed a collective shortsightedness rarely equaled in developing nations. They got what they asked for. Nothing.

Whining over Tata decision to relocate factory site

Burning the car in effigy tells me you don’t want the jobs

Thousands of people have been protesting in the Indian state of West Bengal after the Tata group abandoned its plans to manufacture cars there.

Tata, one of India’s leading industrial groups, had planned to make what it said would be the world’s cheapest car, the Nano, at a factory in Singur. But the project was disrupted by a row over land on which the plant was built.

After months of sustained and sometimes violent protests, Tata has announced that it would scrap the venture and shift production of the Nano elsewhere.

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