Automotive News [sub] reports that Tata plans on bringing a version of its Nano subcompact to the US market “in about two years.” About? “Maybe two years and six months,” equivocated Tata chairman Ratan Tata at the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Enterprise. But the Indian firm faces at least one major challenge: where to sell the thing. Jaguar/Land Rover North America spokesfolks say that “Tata will not use Jaguar Land Rover’s distribution network and vice versa.” For obvious reasons. The Nano boasts none of the small-but-premium appeal of BMW’s MINI or Chrysler’s forthcoming Fiat 500. So where will it sell? Roger Penske’s Saturn World Market? Global Vehicles U.S.A.’s 330-strong Mahindra distribution network? Wal-Mart?
Either way, the Nano “will need to meet all emission and crash standards,” says Tata. Which will likely inflate the Nano’s Indian-market $2,500 pricetag. Still, its relatively low price, light weight and rugged simplicity should make it popular with shadetree EV conversion nuts. Especially with similarly sized EVs like the Mitsu MiEV set to be priced at over $40K. But with Jaguar planning a “post-recession” sportscar launch in 2011, Tata seems to be hedging its bets. So which will do better, the British convertible or the Indian budget car special? Or is the market so fragmented that such decisions aren’t either-or?