Tata Nano Hybrid and Hot Rod Coming to Market

By dancurranjr On December 27th, 2009

The world’s cheapest car is about to get greener and sportier.

A hybrid version of the tiny Tata Nano has been confirmed by Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Motors, according to South Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper.

The current gasoline-powered Nano — on sale in India since April — is hardly a gas guzzler. Powered by a tiny, 35-horsepower 2-cylinder gas engine, the Nano is capable of approximately 50 miles per gallon. A greener variant of this engine (or the larger 3-cylinder motor planned for export markets) could make the Nano the world’s cheapest hybrid.

Mr. Tata did not elaborate as to when a Nano hybrid might go on sale, or offer specifics regarding the powertrain.

More likely to appear first is a hot-rod version of the Nano — or something close to it. D.C. Design, a car customizer based in Pune, India, is planning to release its modified Nano in early 2010, reports the Business Standard. The transformation comes complete with massive front grill, blistered fenders, alloy wheels and over-sized air intakes. Not since Wayne and Garth cruised Aurora, Ill., in a flamed powder-blue AMC Pacer has there been a more ironic custom car.

“The world’s cheapest car has thrown up a few interesting scenarios,” said Dilip Chhabria, founder of D.C. Design. “Firstly, we think the world’s cheapest car does have a lot of sex appeal – in fact its silhouette of one sweeping arc is quite unparalleled and lends itself to customization.”

During my drive of the Nano earlier this year, I praised the cute tortoise shell-like exterior. In comparison, the D.C. Design model appears to have taken inspiration from Darth Vader’s helmet. The outrageous exterior screams high performance, but the engine offers only a mechanical whimper. Accelerating from 0-60 miles an hour takes approximately 30 seconds — making the Nano 15 seconds slower than the Smart Fortwo, presently the slowest accelerating car sold in the United States.

But according to Mr. Chhabria, Nano customers are looking for design exclusivity on a tight budget. “Because it is so cheap, it has spawned, we think, a whole new segment,” explained Mr. Chhabria. “For a customer spending 80 percent value as a D.C. addition, it still is cheaper than other entry level car — albeit a highly differentiated and exclusive one.”


Dawn of the $2,000 Car – Tata Nano

By dancurranjr On March 31st, 2009

tata-nanoTata Motors announced that it will begin accepting orders for its $1,980 Nano “people’s car” on April 9th. (No relation to the Apple iPod Nano.) The ultra-affordable Nano promises to make automobile ownership more widespread in native India and likely beyond, and it serves as an interesting bookend in a corporate portfolio that also includes Jaguar and Land Rover.

Much like the XO laptop designed for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) mission, the Nano represents a creative initiative to produce a low-cost car that can reach an expansive market. Tata expects significant demand and will be using a lottery system to handle the initial orders. (Today, the Nano section of the tatamotors.com site was down for hours, perhaps reflecting initial interest with the announcement.) Production is expected to reach 350,000 vehicles a year.

The Nano is a 10-foot-long four-seat car powered by 624cc, two-cylinder engine with a four-speed transmission. It will be offered in three trim levels. The base Standard model is barebones enough to make the Flintstonemobile seem luxurious, but it does feature a fold-down rear seat and an 18-month/24,000-kilometer warranty. The midlevel CX boasts heating and air conditioning, power brakes, two-tone seats, and a parcel shelf. The relatively premium LX adds fabric seats, central locking, front power windows, fog lamps, electronic trip meter, a cup holder in the front console, and power point outlet. The LX is also distinguished by unique colors and rear spoiler.

While there are no plans for the Nano to arrive on American shores, we will have an opportunity to check out the company’s two entries for the Progressive Automotive X Prize. Tata is expected to enter an electric microcar in the Alternative class, which requires a minimum range of 100 miles and two-passenger capacity. Tata is designing a hybrid to compete in the Mainstream class, which requires a 200-mile range and four-passenger capacity.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

10 Things You Should Know About the Tata Nano

By dancurranjr On March 30th, 2009

tata-nanoThe tiny Tata Nano is an Indian car that’s been getting huge buzz.

But what do consumers need to know about this new four-passenger car – and is it green?

  1. At about $2,000, the Tata Nano is the world’s cheapest car.
  2. Naturally, it’s a tiny car. The dimensions are nine feet long, five feet wide and about five feet tall, “smaller than a Toyota Yaris,” says Wired. It’s powered by a 623 cc engine, and is designed to compete with scooters. The top speed the Nano can reach is 65 mph.
  3. The Nano is pretty bare-bones: It has a manual transmission, and no air conditioning, stereo or air bags (they can be purchased as add-ons). It only has a single windshield wiper: “Kind of skimpy for a country with a monsoon season,” notes Emily Wax of the Washington Post.
  4. The sale of accessories will make Tata steep profits: According to the Economic Times, the accessories will command a 15-20 percent margin, almost thrice the 5-7 percent margin that is usual in the small-car segment.
  5. Tata hopes to make the car available in the U.S. by 2011 or 2012. However, because of higher emissions and safety standards here, the cars would cost around $4,000.
  6. The Nano is pretty green when it comes to fuel consumption.  The car is certified by the Automotive Research Association of India as getting 56 miles to the gallon. That gives it not only the highest fuel rating of any other Indian petrol-powered car but also the lowest CO2 at 101 gm/km.
  7. This doesn’t mean the arrival of the Nano is green, though. Because it is so affordable, many environmentalists fear that it could double the amount of cars on already-crowded indian roads. According to the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, studies already show one person dies every hour in New Delhi from air pollution-related diseases.
  8. However, if people give up their polluting scooters – currently a popular method of transportation in India – for a cleaner Nano, it might not be so bad after all. According to Tata, the Nano pollutes 12 percent less than a typical scooter.
  9. Tata will not be able to keep up with the demand for the Nano. Auto analysts say that production will be limited to just 30,000 to 50,000 cars in the first year because of limited production capacity — a fraction of the original target of 250,000.The first 100,000 Nanos will be sold at random to anyone who has applied early and put down a deposit.
  10. Tata hopes to eventually release diesel, electric and compressed air-powered versions of the Nano.

SOURCE: U.S. News and World Report

Video – Test Drive of the Tata Nano

By dancurranjr On March 26th, 2009

With the Tata Nano finally on the road (in India), first impressions are starting to roll in from all over the web. Here’s the elevator pitch: a rear mounted 623 cc two cylinder engine outputing 33 horsepower to the comically small rear wheels. However, what makes the Nano interesting is that it retails for about $2,000.

So what does the world’s cheapest new car feel like on the road? Check the video to find out.