Ok, the title is not what you think.
Recently Tata Motors of India announced they’d be offering a fuel efficient vehicle (50MPG) priced at $2500 USD that almost any family in India could afford to buy and to operate. Called the Tata Nano, it is seen as enabling people to move up from the lower ends of India’s transportation spectrum, where two-wheeled scooters selling for as little as $900 are often crammed with entire families.
The Nano’s closest competitor is the Maruti 800, a four-door selling for nearly twice as much.
In terms of performance, it doesn’t offer much more than the Ford Model T. The Nano has a two-cylinder 0.6-liter gasoline engine with 33 horsepower, giving it a top speed of about 60 mph, according to Tata Motors. It gets 50 miles per gallon. Tata claims that the car meets safety and environmental standards (such as Euro IV emissions compliance) which is as I understand it, pretty tough. In any case, the Nano is probably cleaner than the 2 cycle Vespa scooter or other small motorbikes currently all over India.
It is very low on use of raw materials, and it gets better mileage that the Toyota Prius (46MPG) yet environmentalists are having a bit of a cow about it.
Here is a recent blog posting from Sidartha Stone, who grew up in India, but lives in Silicon Valley, and holds a Ph.D in mechanical engineering.
Here is an excerpt:
Car A gets a fuel efficiency of 46 miles per gallon. Car B gets about 50 miles per gallon. Car A is called the Toyota Prius and is hailed by environmentalists as a step towards solving global warming. Car B, a new car called the Tata Nano unveiled by an Indian company, is reviled by environmentalists as disastrous for global warming. The New York Times devotes an entire editorial condemning the Tata Nano. Columnist and author Tom Friedman calls for the Tata Nano to be “taxed like crazy.” The reason for this extreme criticism? The Tata Nano is cheap – very cheap. It is a revolutionary new car design that will cost only about $2,500 and will bring car ownership within reach of millions of new people in the developing world. The environmentalists’ hypocrisy is breathtaking.
This is not unlike that of the Duke of Wellington at the dawn of the railroad era, who criticized the railways on the grounds that “[They will] only encourage the common people to move about needlessly.”
This environmental angst over the Tata reminds me of this classic Far Side comic: