AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
The Tata Nano is one of the cheapest cars on sale today worldwide, and according to Tata CEO Ratan Tata, it will be on sale in the U.S. in three years time.
Watch out Tata Nano – there’s a new vehicle in town and its aiming to be the cheapest car on the road. The Bajaj RE60 in a new four wheeled vehicle that’s looking to replace the Nano as the most inexpensive car in India.
Tipping the scales at a mere 880 pounds, the Bajaj RE60 keeps its weight down by utilizing a monocoque metal-polymer hybrid structure that’s durable as well as light weight. It gets its juice from a water-cooled 200cc engine that pumps out 20 horsepower, and offers a top speed of 43 mph. Even though it’s a compact car, there’s room for cargo – about 14.1 cubic feet when you fold down the rear seats.
In an effort to keep it eco-friendly, the RE60 will be available in gasoline, liquid propane gas and compressed natural gas models, which will give this vehicle 60 gm/km range and mileage of 35 kmpl.
“At Bajaj Auto, we believe the people of this planet deserve much better, much faster,” said Rajiv Bajaj, MD of Bajaj Auto . “We therefore decided to focus our efforts on developing vehicles powered by engines using available natural resources and infrastructure. We are very excited with the outcome of our efforts and, in the RE60, we believe we have an excellent solution for the mobility challenges arising from the rapid urbanization of India.”
No word on price just yet, but in order to make a dent in India’s car market, Bajaj will have to keep the price on the RE60 below the Nano.
The Tata Nano was supposed to be a cheap, simple car built for the people, but so far it has caused nothing but problems for the Indian automaker.
First it was an electrical issue that caused the Nano to catch fire which was the catalyst for a recall of 70,000 Nano’s. Now a faulty starter motor that the manufacturer says needs to be replaced is plauging the Nano.
Tata says that this recall is not actually a recall at all, as it was not spurred by customer complaints, but rather by Tata engineers designing a better starter which they feel all early model Nano’s should utilize. The recall will affect over 140,000 vehicles and is the largest recall in Tata’s history.
Renault is in development of an ultra low-cost vehicle, along the lines of the Tata Nano. While the Nano is currently suffering from some awful sales numbers (initial projection of 20,000 a month but only saw 1,200 units sold in September), CEO of Renault/Nissan Carlos Ghosn is convinced that an extremely affordable vehicle would be a good segment for Renault to venture into when approaching emerging markets.
According to reports from La Tribune, Gérard Detourbet, the head of Renault’s low-cost division, will be responsible in developing an engine and platform for a vehicle next year that will have a starting price of 2,500€ ($3,300). While Renault is already offering multiple low-cost vehicles in Brazil, it is possible that the new car will not wear a Renault badge, but the badge of sub-brand Dacia (seen above) instead.
[Source: Left Lane News]
The world’s cheapest vehicle has just gotten a whole lot (little bit?) better, with Tata announcing a batch of upgrades for their economical Nano. The 624-cc engine now makes a ferocious 37.5-hp, giving it a max speed of 65-mph.
In addition to the performance increase, the Nano also got its suspension reworked which included a new anti-roll bar in the front and a redesigned steering mechanism. The biggest improvement though is that the Nano Standard now comes with power-assisted brakes. Prior to this refresh, power-assisted brakes were only offered on some of Nano’s more luxurious models.
On the inside, buyers have a trio of colors to choose from for interior trim – beige, black and gray while the exterior colors have expanded to a portfolio of 10 choices. Those 10 colors are worth mentioning just for their names: Pearl White, Rouge Red, Aqua Blue, Neon Rush, Serene White, Meteor Silver, Mojito Green, Papaya Orange, Sunshine Yellow and Champagne Gold.
Hopefully these will help increase Tata’s Nano sales. They originally projected (or rather, hoped) to sell around 20,000 to 25,000 vehicles a month but saw only 1,200 leave dealer lots in September. Maybe it’s not paying off to be the world’s cheapest vehicle.
That certainly helped push sales, with Tata selling 9000 units in July 2010. However, after a few vehicles caught fire and concerns over its safety became public, sales took a plunge and resulted in just 509 units sold in November.
Now it seems Tata has addressed the safety and reliability concerns for its city runabout, and along with good finance deals to tempt more people into their showrooms, Tata is now doubling production to met demand. Their hope is to sell 20,000 units per-month for the next fiscal year. Only time will tell if their plan works out.
There are no plans for a North American launch anytime soon.
If the maker of the world’s cheapest car does move ahead with plans to sell it here in the U.S., the sticker price won’t be the $2,000 figure that the car retails for in its home market of India.
Instead, says Tata Motors chairman, Ratan Tata, the Nano city car would likely range between $7,000 and $8,000. Tata made the comments recently at an event held at Cornell University, where he is an alumnus.
The reason for the higher price, says Tata, is that the car, “…will still be, in comparative terms, a car that the U.S. would accept.” In other words, it will have far more equipment than the base $2,000 Nano, which doesn’t even come with heat or air conditioning.
Previously, Tata had said the company would have the Nano on sale in the U.S. by 2012.
Tata has been trying to dip its toe into the wild, wacky world of the European automobile market ever since they released their $2,500 Nano supermini. They made an attempt at appeasing discerning European customers with the Nano Europa, an “upscale” Nano with alloy wheels, power steering, and an extra cylinder (bringing the total to three).
But the Pixel, shown at Geneva, is Tata’s most dedicated effort yet. A slick, white little egg, the Pixel is only 10 feet long but can still seat four, who enter through upward-opening scissor doors. The small size enables the Pixel to turn within its own space – it rotates the rear wheels in separate directions, thanks to what Tata calls a “Zero Turn toroidal traction-drive Infinitely Variable Transmission,” whatever that means. Result: its manuverability in parking is perfectly matched for the city streets of Europe.
Inside, the Pixel features smartphone connectivity through “My Tata Connect,” which allows the driver to control the car’s functions from his phone. And the driver will be in control of a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbodiesel engine that is expected to return more than 60 miles per gallon.
If Tata is serious about selling the Nano in Europe, and eventually America, then the Pixel indicates the direction they’re planning to take their next small car.
[Sources: Autoblog, Tata]
Along with China, India’s economy has experienced rapid expansion in the last decade, helping fuel the creation of a new middle class, which of course wants all the trappings most middle class folks do, their own house, car and plenty of creature comforts.
By 2015, India is expected to be the fourth largest single auto market in the world and already, some manufacturers, even US ones, are taking a serious look at peddling their offerings there. One of them is Ford, which plans to offer a version of its flashy third generation Focus.
According to a study by Boozy & Company, the average car buyer in India wants to spend less than $8000 on a vehicle. That really isn’t very much and helps partly explain why Tata believed it’s pint sized Nano could do so well on the sub-continent.
This price point will also make it difficult for Ford and others to sell current versions of their world cars there in many cases. But when it comes to cheap, practical cars, perhaps there’s another angle, here, something which could ultimately prove far more cost effective and beneficial.
India’s most popular car for many years has been the Hindustan Ambassador, essentially a brand new, Isuzu powered 1948 Morris Oxford. In fact they’re still making the blasted things and in sizable numbers too.
There’s many reasons why the Ambassador has proved such a success. It’s capacious by Indian standards, has proper doors, a trunk and prosaic, tough mechanicals, which make it easy to operate and easy to service in tough, harsh conditions, like those typically found in India. Because it’s been in production forever it’s also highly profitable. In fact it’s regarded in many quarters as India’s national car and the king of the road down there.
If car makers like Ford, GM and others are to really have a fighting chance and selling practical, low priced cars in India, perhaps the success of the Ambassador is something they need to consider at least in the short term.
Getting back to the study, Booz says it’s not just about the cars, it’s also about the fact that China and India will become the pillars of the global economy in the future? Really, that’s a bit like saying the sun will rise and set tomorrow. If you ever wondered what happened to all the money in the world in the last couple of years, now you know; it’s been used to pay hefty consulting fees to people who do nothing more than simply state the obvious.
[Source: USA Today]
The brain child of Ratan Tata, head of India’s massive conglomerate, the Nano, billed as the ‘world’s most affordable car,’ has never been far from controversy.
Nevertheless it has generated a great deal of interest around the world among the public as well as automotive designers and engineers about the concept of a truly practical car for the developing world. Now the Nano, which sells for around $2,500, has become the subject of an art exhibition stateside.
Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art has put on a one-of-a-kind display which it calls ‘Unpacking the Nano – the price of the world’s most affordable car.” A bright yellow Nano is parked at the entrance to the museum, while upstairs a red one has been disassembled and various parts displayed on wire in one room, designed to appear as real life renderings of exploded shop diagrams or instruction manuals, with each of them broken down into price and weight in a social and cultural context.
Some components, such as the wiring harness are mounted on wood, symbolizing the 16 crates into which the whole exhibition can be packed.
The ideal of having a Nano display at Cornell isn’t as tenuous as you might think; Ratan Tata attended the university’s school of architecture. The exhibition runs until March 27th and like the car itself, is likely to generate plenty of controversy.
There is such a thing of having too much of a good thing. Like gold… especially when it is on a Tata Nano. The most basic car on the road just got pimped to celebrate the 5,000th anniversary of Indian jewelry.
Tata Group, the company that makes the Nano, employed Titan, one of its subsidiaries, to make the very first pure gold jewelry car which will be launched in April/May 2011 under the name Goldplus Nano. The campaign to promote the flashy ride started in November when Tata asked the public to send in designs. Thirteen designs came in and the winner was announced December 24th.
The winning design will be immortalized on the Nano and will be made out of pure gold at the Titan manufacturing plant in Hosur, Bangalore. The contests purposed was to drum up positive attention for the car, which saw sagging sales in the latter part of 2010.
[Source: International Business Times]
Despite being hailed as the vehicle that would motorize a billion-strong economic powerhouse, the Tata Nano has turned out to be a spectacular flop, with November sales totalling just 509 units, from a peak of 9,000 units in July. For comparison, Mercedes-Benz cars, far beyond the reach of a majority of India’s population, regularly sells over 500 cars a month.
Quality problems have dogged the Nano, and are blamed for the disastrous sales decline. Numerous Nanos have gone up in flames, prompting Indian consumers to stay away for the $2,257 car. Despite the Nano’s troubles, parent company Tata motors has had a phenomenal financial year, with a 100-fold increase in profit and a share price increase of 78%.
[Source: Economic Times]
Tata’s Nano city car is being investigated for a series of fires in India related to the car. A Tate spokesman said that the company was “conducting a probe” into the matter.
The Nano, which costs about $2,500, is billed as the world’s cheapest car. Initial reports of fires were said to be unrelated incidents, but further reports of smoke in the cars spurred a switch in ignition suppliers. Tata is asking Nano owners to have their vehicles checked at dealerships “to allay owners’ concerns”.
The Nano is a pivotal car for Tata Motors, and India itself, as an increasingly wealthy middle class looks to move from two-wheeled transportation into a proper car.
[Source: The National Post]
What’s smaller than Micra? Nissan is about to answer that question with news that the Japanese automaker will build a vehicle to slot in underneath its new Micra sub-compact (above) and rival Indian automaker Tata’s Nano.
Even more surprising than building the car is the revelation that Nissan believes it can actually make money doing so – despite the fact that the new mini car will retail for roughly $3,000. While the Nano starts at roughly $500 less, most Nano buyers opt for the LX model which retails for $4,183.
Designed for the Indian market, the car will be built in India with almost all parts coming from inside the country as well – helping to cut down on labor and shipping costs. Nissan has also partnered with Indian three-wheel vehicle manufacturer Baja Autos to put the project into action. The mini-Micra is expected to hit the market by 2012.
Nissan has big plans for the Indian marketplace, having sold just 360 cars there last year, but with plans to move as many as 100,000 units by 2013.
[Source: Automotive News via MotorTrend]
Discuss this story at MicraForums.com
Despite competition from Tata, known for building the world’s cheapest car, Suzuki has no plans to compete head-to-head with the Indian automaker. Currently Suzuki has a stranglehold on emerging markets like India, but Tata is looking to take a chunk of that with the Nano, which undercuts the already inexpensive Suzuki models.
Slamming the Indian-made Nano, Suzuki boss Osamu Suzuki said that building an even lower model vehicle is not a part of the company’s plans as it, “wouldn’t be a car anymore.”
The main reason that Suzuki is letting Tata have the lower end of the market is that it feels an even lower model would devalue the brand. The Japanese automaker cites concerns that such a model would require reduced safety and comfort, two areas where it’s not prepared to perform cuts.
Tata unveiled a new electric version of its Nano at the Geneva Auto Show. The Nano EV joins the Indica Vista EV in Tata’s electric line-up.
The Nano EV will use the same super polymer lithium-ion battery as the Indica Vista EV. The electric version of the world’s least expensive automobile has a range of 99.4 miles, short of the Indica Vista EV’s 124-mile range, which is unusual considering the Indica Vista is a larger vehicle.
The Tata Nano EV will make its way to European markets in 2010 with expansion to other markets coming later.
Gallery: Tata Nano EV
Tata Motors Chairman Ratan N. Tata announced that the company has created a model that will be exported to European markets – including Europe. The Indian car company unveiled this new model, the Tata Nano Europa at the Geneva Auto Show yesterday.
“In India, the Nano will be launched on March 23, and the cars will be on display at company dealerships from the first week of April,” said Mr. Tata. “The Nano has also generated wide interest in developed countries, since its unveiling in Delhi and its presentation here last year. We are delighted to present the Nano Europa for future launch in such markets.”
The Nano Europa is just 3.29 meters long (roughly 10.8 feet) and is 1.58 meters wide (roughly 5.2-feet). It features a slightly longer wheelbase than the standard model, for better handling as well as better interior space.
A more refined interior is also a part of the package.
The Nano Europa will be powered by a 3-cylinder aluminum engine mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. No output numbers are available but Tata says the engine will be class-leading – in terms of fuel-economy anyway.
Tata did say that the Europa already meets all European safety regulations, due to its energy absorbing design, air bags and use the of both ABS and stability control.
GALLERY: Tata Nano Europa
More after the jump: