The name Tata may not mean anything to you, but Tata Motors has been making trucks in India for 50 years. It's also that nation's third-largest automobile maker with sales that have risen to more than 2 million today.
Ratan Tata, chairman of the 143-year old family congolomerate, anticipates that India's billion-plus population may create an automotive market to rival the U.S., China and Japan...
Tata plans to export to the U.S. a no-frills Nano, the world's cheapest car, within the next three years.
USA TODAY says that it's currently about $3,500 in India but would cost about $10,000 in America and even at that price would still be the cheapest new car available in the U.S.
When Automobilemag.com secured a chance to see the car and ride in it, they reported the following:
"A low price alone won't be enough; the Nano will have to perform at least a little bit like a "proper" car. And it does. You open one of four very light, flimsy-feeling doors and enter a remarkably airy cabin. The whole car is only 122 inches long (sixteen inches longer than a Smart ForTwo), but with the engine under the rear seats and virtually no nose, almost all of that is usable cabin space, with one six-footer able to sit comfortably behind another. The seats are firm, the cloth in which they're trimmed feels of decent quality (base models get vinyl upholstery), and the big one-piece dash molding with its central speedometer is made of a surprisingly good-looking plastic."
Here's more on the car's 37hp 2-cylinder engine:
"A Tata engineer takes the wheel and starts the 623-cc, 37-hp SOHC two-cylinder engine. The engine note sounds worryingly similar to the putt-putt of the two-stroke scooters Nano buyers will be trading up from, and when two more Tata engineers jump in the back for the ride, I start to worry about the engine's ability to cope. An unladen 1322 pounds is an impressive curb weight for a four-seat car, but 37 hp sounds less impressive when confronted with nearly a ton of car and passengers. But the smiling, confident guys in the back seat plainly know something I don't, and the Nano moves off with, if not vigor, then certainly a surprising lack of sloth. Don't be fooled by the estimated 17-second 0-to-60-mph time; the Nano will get to 60 mph but is almost out of puff, so adding those final few miles per hour takes a disproportionately long amount of time. To 30 or 40 mph, the Nano easily feels quick enough to keep pace with other traffic, and even when worked hard, the tiny engine doesn't get too shouty or coarse."
More recently, auto experts say the engine will grow and the U.S. version of the Nano might add power steering and traction control.
Automobile magazine suggests that "this odd-looking little bubble of a car, with its dime-size wheels and tiny tailpipe and weird two-cylinder whir, might turn out to be the Ford Model T of the twenty-first century."
Time will tell.