Pictures are supposed to be worth a thousand words, but this one is good for at least two whole life lessons. First: you get what you pay for. If you buy the world’s cheapest car, as insurance agent Satish Sawant did, it might just burst into flames on the drive home from the dealership. Second: Google Adsense has no sense of irony.
Last week was an eventful one for Tata Motors. First, Daimler announced that it had completed selling off its 5.34% stake in the Indian automaker, for USD $422 million. Investors including Citibank and Tata Sons, the largest current Tata Motors stockholder, acquired the shares. Daimler explained the move by saying that it is now well enough established in India in terms of passenger and commercial vehicles, to no longer need an equity share in a local company. Daimler already builds CVs in Pune and its new CV plant in Chennai will go online in 2012. Daimler and Tata have a relationship that dates to 1954, when Tata started assembling Mercedes-Benz trucks. The two companies started local assembly of M-B cars in 1994 under the Telco joint venture.
Hyundai are on fire at the moment. They’re posting good profits at a time of economic instability, their quality & reliability is winning them awards and customers like what they see in their showrooms. However, that magic formula seems to be losing its lustre elsewhere in the world. The Hindu Business Line reports that Tata Motors have snatched number 2 position from Hyundai in the Indian market. Sucks to be third! (Read More…)
The AP (Yahoo) reports:
Tata Motors already has made a European version of the four-seat car that will cost about $8,000 when it debuts in 2011, and a Tata Technologies official said privately that the U.S. version is expected to have a comparable price. The official did not want to be identified because the price has not been made public.
A one liter, three cylinder engine making a reported 60 hp. Five speed manual transmission. Two airbags, ABS, traction control, and electric power steering. 14 inch wheels. [via Autocar] Would you bite for $8k? Everything sells at the right price. Where is the Nano’s magic number?
The prospect of US launches by Chinese and Indian auto brands like Tata and BYD have at least one of the established US-market players in a paranoid froth. Honda VP John Mendel revealed a few of the nightmare scenarios that keep him up at night to USA Today [UPDATE: more on Mendel’s fears at Automotive News [sub]]. One, inspired by BYD’s plans for a 2010 US launch without a distribution channel in place, is that newcomers could skip the dealer model altogether. Mendel worries that “warehouse stores or electronics stores” (sound familiar?) could be used to cut dealers out of the loop, “blowing up” business-as-usual for US distribution strategy.
The world’s supposedly cheapest car ($2,500 apiece) will cost $220,000 when Mumbai-based D.C. Design is through with it. They will keep the car’s snub-nosed shape, everything else has to go.
The standard two-cylinder 624cc, 33-horsepower engine will be replaced by a 1600cc engine. To make room for the motor, the back seats will be removed. The car will get new brakes, new suspension, and bigger 20-inch wheels to allow for the top speed of 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph).
Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Tata, Renault and Volkswagen are all gunning for India’s small car market, with a number of new models unveiled or featured at today’s India Auto Expo. Some, like the Renault ULC, or “Ultra Low Cost” car still haven’t been revealed. For a look at some of the competitors that are on the road or have just been unveiled, check out our gallery below. With Toyota and Volkswagen publicly aiming for ten percent market share (and others surely hoping for a similar performance), the competition couldn’t be more cutthroat.
We also recognize there is a market (for the Nano) not only in developing countries, but possibly in the developed countries. For the United States we need a car which has a larger engine and we need additional crash test modifications and we are in the process of doing it.
Ratan Tata at today’s India Auto Expo [via Automotive News [sub]], suggesting that the world’s cheapest car could eventually be sold in the US. Fiat is already partnering with Tata to jointly sell the Nano in Latin American markets, so there’s a chance that the Indian city car could eventually show up at Chrysler dealerships.
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn is a superstitious man. He doesn’t want to add a 13th brand to his (or rather Piech’s) large collection. (Coincidentally, 12 is the number of Piech’s children. More or less. Nobody is quite sure,) “There are some who knock on our door. Some really want to come under our roof as they see we’re on a good path strategically. But we are satisfied with the current line-up,” Winterkorn said to Wirtschaftswoche. Specifically questioned about Volvo or (gasp) Daimler, Winterkorn answered: „There are many who would like to snuggle in VW’s cozy bed. Thank you, not interested.” Instead, he’s re-thinking the line-up of his new acquisitions: “I could imagine a smaller Cayenne derivative. Or a Porsche below the Boxster. This is under discussion.”
With Tata unable to produce enough Nanos to keep up with demand, more automakers are gunning for its entry-level segment. Renault-Nissan is teaming up with its Indian-market partner Bajaj to produce a car that’s even cheaper to produce than the Nano. “I can tell you the cost of this car would be lower than any car today made in India,” Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn tells Gasgoo, adding that a lower production cost wouldn’t guarantee that the new car would be priced lower than Nano. The Renault ULC, as the low-cost car is being called during development, will be available in India in 2012, by which time GM and Toyota could have competing models on the market. Ford’s recently-announced Indian market low-cost car, based on the discontinued previous-generation European Fiesta, will be positioned above the Nano. And that strategy also appeals to Honda. The Motor Company tells the WSJ that rather than competing directly with the lowest-cost segment, a sub-Fit (Jazz, as it’s known globally) hatchback will be introduced around 2012 to compete with Ford’s model. The Jazz/Fit currently sells for about $15,000 in India, leaving a huge window between there and the Nano’s approximately $3,000 price price tag.
The Economic Times of India reports that Tata is considering offering knock-down kits of its Nano microcar and allowing franchisees to offer the world’s cheapest car as a private-label brand. The move is being considered as Tata’s dedicated Nano plant is still ramping up to its 350k unit annual production level, and the company is still having a hard time filling demand. Can’t you just see twelve-packs of Nanos at Costco?