Indians Respond Enthusiastically to World's Cheapest Car
Topics: Tata Nano
January 15, 2008
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The world's cheapest car, made by an Indian manufacturer, has triggered unprecedented interest in a country where only eight people in every thousand own a car. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha has a report on how people in India are reacting to Tata Motors' Nano.
Tens of thousands of people are flocking to the Auto Show in New Delhi - and the star attraction is a $2,500 car dubbed the "People's Car".
The Nano, produced by India's Tata conglomerate, made its debut last week.
After a peek at the no-frills vehicle, with a 624 cubic centimeter engine, thousands say they want to buy it.
"I belong to middle class family, so it is very good thing for us, good news for us, because I can dream a good car in India," said one person.
"This is very cheap, I want to buy for my son," one gentleman said.
"Its cost is not too much, and I wish I have personal car and I cannot buy large one," said one woman.
"It appeals [to] me just due to the parking situation available in India number one, number two the fuel efficiency, number three is price, number four it is very cute vehicle, seems to be very cute," added yet another gentleman.
People have even flocked in from villages far from the city to see the Nano.
Balwan Ram took a bus from a village in Haryana state, 100 kilometers away from Delhi. Ram says he came especially to see the car and now is waiting to buy it to replace his motorbike.
The enthusiasm is not surprising in a country of more than a billion people, where a family outing can be a challenge because of dismal public transportation.
Tata chairman Ratan Tata says he conceived of the low-priced car for India's masses when he saw a family traveling on a two wheeled scooter; the father driving, his child standing in front of him, and wife seated behind holding a baby - all getting wet in the rain.
"This has been referred to as one man's dream," sadi Tata. "And indeed it was."
Now global automakers are watching to see how that dream pans out in the marketplace.
If the small car is successful after hitting the roads later this year, it could expand the car market in an unprecedented manner in developing countries.
But not everyone is happy. Although the manufacturers say the small car will meet strict emission standards, environmentalists worry about fuel use and the congestion it will cause on India's crowded roads.
The head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, R.K. Pachauri, says the focus should be on more efficient public transportation.
"The problem is not with the product itself. The usage of the product and what that implies, how can we be blind to that?" he asked. "Where are we going to find road space to accommodate all these cars, not to speak of local pollution, not to speak of the fact that it is going to crowd out public transport options."
But these concerns are of little interest to the millions eagerly waiting to become car owners for the first time.
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