By on January 16, 2010

Doors sold separately

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?

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55 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: What Price Tata Nano?...”

  • avatar

    By magic number do you mean how much they would have to pay me to drive this thing? Honestly, I wouldn’t want one even if it was given to me.  I have zero interest in a death trap appliance like this.

  • avatar

    Depends. Are doors optional?

    • 0 avatar

      The EXACT same thought I had when I saw the picture. They could at least use some booth professionals to sell it. Tata’s is really missing a synergestic marketing connection with men. Maybe dealerships without windows and neon signs?

  • avatar







  • avatar

    The higher the price, the better the used car I could recommend instead.

  • avatar

    A stripped Versa isn’t a whole lot more than 8 grand.  Nano’s a great car for the Indian market….for America, not so much.

    • 0 avatar

      The base Versa is actually almost $2k more than the proposed Nano’s price (base Versa = $9990).

      But the point is still valid – the base Versa would easily be worth the extra 2 large. Hell, even a grungy Aveo, Rio, or Accent at maybe $1k more (after discounts) would be a wiser choice.

      OTOH,  at two-thirds the price, the Nano makes a lot more sense for any of those misguided souls previously interested in a smart fortwo.

  • avatar

    My understanding is that the Nano has a top speed of only 65 mph.  That just isn’t good enough to make the car viable for the American market.  Furthermore, considering the way that the average American drives I would expect to find a lot of these with blown motors.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    The wheel bearings aren’t even designed to maintain a sustained speed over 45mph. How is a car like this even roadworthy? Would never consider this.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point – the entire car is designed to be what it is – the first car for poor 3rd world citizens who will not drive more than a few thousand miles a year.  I think the car was designed for a max life of 50,000 miles.

      The United States will take another decade of reckless fiscal irresponsibility to reach 3rd world status, but we are on our way!!!

  • avatar

    If Tata  put $10K in the trunk I might consider accepting one and using it on the golf course.

  • avatar

    $8k is about $1k too high, and it won’t sell well without an automatic. However, I think the traction control, power steering, and 14 inch wheels are overkill.

  • avatar

    For me, maybe $5k. The used car argument is a good one so that would be a factor.
    I don’t buy the lack of safety argument. For one thing, I’m sure my bike would score pretty low in collision tests – a nano is much safer. In December, there was a head-on collision between a Cherokee going the wrong way and 78 MG Midget on I-90 in Boston. The passenger was killed, but the driver survived. Again, I think the Nano would survive a head-on better than an MG.
    On the opposite end of the spectrum, having a large vehicle is no guarantee of safety.  There have been at least 2 fatal full size SUV accidents on 35 mph side roads near my house.  There’s a way to die in any kind or size of vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s the SUV or Truck vs the Nano that should scare anyone.
      Just last week three 14 year old girls were killed in Oxford, Michigan when one of their mother (the other two were friends getting a ride to school) crossed into oncoming traffic with her small Toyota and got hit by a 2002 GMC Sierra.
      They need to start showing videos like this to even get considered in the US:
      Crash at the 2:20 mark

  • avatar

    Off the top of my head, I think it would be a huge hit at six grand but at eight it’s going to lose a lot of sales to the used market and slightly more expensive established brands. But the right price is going to depend on a lot of stuff we can’t know yet, like the size of the dealer network, the cost of gasoline, and what kind of warranty it’s going to have.

  • avatar

    Maybe $5K, but even that is stretching it when you can get some real used car bargains at that price. I would never buy a car without A/C (well, maybe a Wrangler), and would have to have a killer value to buy one without an automatic transmission, power windows, doors, and mirrors, and a CD player.

  • avatar

    I’ll put a guess at $7K.  However, that would be completely dependent on just how good the upcoming Aveo is.  And it’s promising a whole lot more than the current model.
    And yes, there would be a market for it – city transportation, the same market that the Smart supposedly covers.

  • avatar

    $8,000? Excuse me??
    Wasn’t it supposed to be a $2,000 (third) world car??
    4 x target price, wow! Tata must have picked up some surplus GM personnel.
    Way to go!

  • avatar

    $8000 with a 10yr/100K warranty.. or $6000 without….
    Access to cheap money is drying up fast…  Keep in mind the new buyers..
    Your 26, been driving beaters all your life, you’ve saved a couple grand and you can borrow $4-$6K from a local credit union @ 10%…
    $30K+ new cars are quickly becoming a status symbol again.. Welcome to the new economy.

  • avatar

    “The base Versa is actually almost $2k”
    What is the warranty on the Nano.  Perhaps a 2-year-old Versa would have the same remaining warranty as a new Nano and cost less too.

  • avatar

    I like it. It has almost twice the horsepower of my original VW.
    All the speculation about top speed and price is a waste of time. Let’s wait and see what the actual numbers are.
    Yes, a big vehicle usually has an advantage in a crash. When I drove my 1959 36 HP VW, when I rode motorcycles, and now when I am riding a bicycle I know I have to allow space for those who are proud of their potential to kill others.

  • avatar

    My understanding is that the Nano has a top speed of only 65 mph.
    The wheel bearings aren’t even designed to maintain a sustained speed over 45mph.

    Apparently Tata is hiring engineers with IQ’s about 1/4 that of the engineers from India that I have met.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’d get a 2nd and 3rd job before I’d put any of my family in that thing.

  • avatar

    For $8,000, no way. You can by a decent used small car for that money have have something that’s fit for the highway.
    For $2,500, it would be tolerable as a short range city car. That is, trips no longer than 10 miles on roads with a speed limit no greater than 40 mph.

  • avatar

    8k is alot for a car without a functioning trunk. I wonder if they’ll give whoever sells these a Sawzall so they can charge another 100 bucks for an optional lift gate.

  • avatar

    Considering that moped cars (plastic shitboxes with 45 km/h top speed, a 50cc engine and 350kg kerb weight) cost about 10000€ here and sell like hotcakes, and a Suzuki Alto costs 9000€, pricing the Nano at 6000€-7000€  range will make it a certain hit.
    Besides, the Nano got a four star Euroncap rating – one star better than smart ForTwo. That’s orders of magnitude safer than most cars from, for example, the mid-nineties.

  • avatar

    For some urban Europeans, buying the cheapest small car possible makes some sense – wherever we have a combination of life revolving around public transportation, one walks to the grocery store, midieval streets are clogged, and engine displacement and gas are taxed excessively. For the US, this thing makes no sense at all.

  • avatar

    Does the quoted price include the B-pillars and the doors?

  • avatar

    A couple points – the 65mph top speed and sustained 45mph are for the Indian market 2 cylinder Nano. This is NOT what will be sold in Europe and America. The Western version will have a 3 cylinder with far more power, and I am sure will be quite capable of sustained highway speeds. I mean really people, folks drove Beetles with <40hp and LOVED them in the 60’s while being surrounded by 4000lb drum braked behemoths. I garantee that a Nano will be a FAR safer and more capable car than a 60’s Beetle. While probably not the best car for crossing West Texas at 85mph, I could certainly see commuting in Boston in one.

  • avatar

    I reserve my final judgment till I see the American version and test drive it but $8,000 would seriously tempt me as a commuter car.

  • avatar

    Regardless of peoples preconceptions about the car “I’d never drive it” blah blah blah, the fact is this type of car is supposed to be aimed at the bottom end buyer who wants a cheap mode of transport- thats it, not people like us who spend our time debating cars on blogs.
    So if you were a ‘bottom end’ buyer and you had around $10,000 dollars to spend on a car, would you opt for the Nano… or a Hyundai Accent? I know what I’d choose.
    For the Nano to be successful anywhere where there are cheap small cars it has to cost significantly less than the cheapest, smallest car already in that market… And I just don’t think Tata can do it.

  • avatar

    Now the Smart2 will have some respect, compared to this thing…I only hope it doesn’t come with the clutchless slushbox the Smart2 has….what a POJ

  • avatar

    the textbook definiton of feature creep and attendent price ballooning
    nissan must be laughing with two sub $1o,000 cars to debut and Suzuki are hot on their heels with VW to produce the Splash and Alto mini cars.

  • avatar

    I’m thinkin’ about 5  grand, and leave out the traction control.

  • avatar

    I think you have misunderestimated one of Tatas fundamental business principles. It’s not about feature creep or price balooning,  the point is that the higher price in the rest of the world in effect subsidizes the $2500 price in India. And that’s a fair game in my eyes, for every rich westerner buying a Nano, some poor Indians will be able to do the same. That’s solidarity between rich and poor, between continents. And it’s okey, even with the higher price, it’s still the cheapest car available.

  • avatar

    yes but how do you get westerners to buy an $8,000 Tata?

    i don’t see this being sold at any appreciable level unless it’s misguided people who want to be ‘fashionable’ like driving a Smart

  • avatar

    $8000!!!!  For what costs $2500 in India?!?!?  If this is what it costs to Federalize a vehicle for the States it goes a long way to explaining why we don’t have more small cars sold here.  This car is a car that needs to compete with motorcycles and used cars on price, to be successful.  It won’t do that at $8K.  One look at Smart’s sales…or lack thereof, should be telling to Tata.

  • avatar

    This vehicle has all the charm and refinement of an Apollo Lunar Lander. Honestly, unless I’m driving it around a golf course, I’ll pass.
    If I’m in dire straits and the only new car on the radar is this masterpiece, than I probably should be considering buying second hand.

  • avatar

    Hmmm – I see a plot to dispose of the underclass by offering this tin can as safe*, viable transportation. It would do about as well as the Yugo did – unless they can market it like the original Beetle.

    *No crumple zones, which are the basis for any high safety rating.

  • avatar

    “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]”

    Comparing against the 1970 Innocenti Mini Cooper I used to own, the Nano gives me 2 extra ccs, 1 less cylinder, maybe the same hp and one extra gear. I’d also have some form of safety equipment in the Nano. Oh, the diameter of the Nano’s wheels are 4 inches bigger than the Mini too – bonus!

    So would I own a Nano? No.

    I loved the Mini, but it was a frightening car to drive in the Northeast US – too many crazy drivers. It was also too underpowered for some of the hilly conditions where I live in central NH. If I was only using it as a local car and not going on highways, I might consider it, otherwise no.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I believe we need to see a US spec version, and drive it, before making a qualified judgement.
    The Nano really reminds me of the Metro/Swift models in the US during the mid to late 1990’s. If the Nano can be made with a similar level of simplicity, performance, and a greater level of safety for at the $8000 to $9000 mark, it will certainly have a chance in the American market.
    Thought of the day… I can see many of these non-US entrants using the Kia strategy when entering the US market. Start in California with a limited number of dealers, and slowly creep out to the Midwest and Southeast before finally establishing a presence in the litigious North.
    Then again, the North has a substantial Indian population so they may try to enter that region a bit sooner… a la Kia with the Koreans.

  • avatar

    I like the concept of a cheap car, but regretfuly, rear engine is just a deal-killer. I can afford a Toyota iQ when it comes over as Scion at higher price point.

  • avatar

    “Would you bite for $8k? Everything sells at the right price. Where is the Nano’s magic number?”

    $6,999 MSRP with negotiation to around $6,000 – $6,500. Not for me, but I would guess that’s the market clearing price to move a decent volume.

    Nissan, 1) a well known 2) Japanese manufacturer is selling 3) an inline-4 sedan (the hatchback actually costs more) for $9,995, so the competition is tough.

    Also, for the US market side impact airbags will need to be added, in addition to the front airbags, and traction control is required by law as of 2012 so it will have to carry over from the European version.

    The Nano may make Tata look like a joke, but the Tata Nano, if sold in the US, will be Tata’s third brand in the US after Jaguar and Land Rover.

    If Tata doesn’t want to set up a new dealership line maybe they can make it the new Jaguar X-type, it may be a step up from the last.

  • avatar

    No thanks… my daily driver Civic is small enough for me. I’d rather ride  a bike then that box.

  • avatar

    If TATA can deliver this into the UK for 4500 GBP then they will have a monster hit on their hands.

  • avatar

    This is a car that cannot be profitable at msrp,,,,value must be added, and problems solved for its unconventional buyers.

    They need a whole new business model for the US.   Some kind of 4 year lease deal that includes insurance and keeps the downpayment to between 500-1500.  New marketing, some kind of improvement on the Daewoo  campus sales program.  PR, but no significant ad budget. Wal-Mart???  Perhaps even car sharing.
    Ultimately its the wrong car for North America, but several wrong cars have snowballed into major counter-cultural success stories over the years.  Its possible, if TATA gives free reign to an innovative, risk taking American sales arm, but at the end of the day it would be an unlikely success story.


  • avatar

    I agree with Steven Lang. it’ll need to be driven before a real judgment can be made.  Though, on the outset, I would question its safety rating, being so small and cheap to build it makes me wonder how much high strength steel was used.  Also, if the whole car was designed to only last 50k miles, that really wouldn’t fly in this country.  Think of all the people you know that commute 200 miles a day.  And, along the lines of that last point, a 50k ceiling would make this the most disposable new car sold in the country, which wouldn’t sit well with people that want their cars to last longer than their second  set of tires.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it does use high strength steel to reduce weight which is 2/3rd the weight of a Smart car. In any case, the bottom line is the NCAP rating which is very good at 4 Star EuroNCAP rating with just a drivers air bag.

      The Indian Nano’s bearings are designed for 50,000 miles, after which they are replaced, just like cars in the US replace their cam belts after 50,000 miles. In India, cars don’t travel that far because the traffic is slow, and most people don’t use the car for commuting (too many traffic jams). Therefore it makes perfect sense. In the US, the bearings specified will probably be different.

  • avatar
    jonny b

    Buy it $8000? I don’t think so. How about leasing it for $99 a month? Now you’ve got me interested.

    • 0 avatar

      I think it will probably be a bit lower say $5500-$7000 depending on spec, since the $8000 was based on a UK price of £5000 for the top spec car and converting pounds to dollars when the dollar was low. UK has higher prices than US for the same model in general when you convert pound cost. The UK price includes various taxes and duties specific to the UK.

  • avatar

    I would rather buy a used compact for 8k than this.  Likely will have more features than this and definitely will be safer.

  • avatar


    1)ott, grifonik: The Nano does come with doors – the doors are shown removed in the photo, presumably to show the interior more clearly to journalists.

    2)Flashpoint: The Nano is a safer car than most that are driving on American roads at the moment. For example the European/US version is a lot safer than a 2009 Ford Ranger SUV, and safer than most 4 year old second hand cars.

    2009 Ford Ranger EuroNCAP crash test – 2 Star EuroNCAP rating

    Tata Nano Europa on exactly the same EuroNCAP crash test – 4 Star EuroNCAP rating expected with driver airbag only fitted.

    Note how the Ford Ranger SUV’s cabin is penetrated and deformed in the crash. This is likely to pin the occupants feet in the crushed front of the cabin, and the deformed doors will prevent the occupants from escaping from a burning vehicle after an accident. Compare this with the much safer Tata Nano (see the after crash test photos), in which the passenger compartment is not intruded into, where the doors open freely and even the windscreen is not cracked. This is because of the well designed passenger protection cell and crumple zone.

    Many Americans believe mistakenly that heavier means safer. This is completely contrary to the truth as the above crash tests prove. Indeed, if a car is strong but light like the Nano, it requires less energy to be absorbed by the crumple zone to stop the car safely. This is borne out by the crash safety record of Indy cars, which are very light, and have small crumple zones, but are incredibly safe as proven by the horrendous crashes they can go through with the driver walking out uninjured.

    3) Johnster, blue adidas: Yes the Indian Nano version’s top speed is limited to 65mph and the wheel bearings are designed for 45mph typical speed. The reason for this is that the legal speed limit on Indian roads is 50mph, and you can rarely get up to even that due to overcrowding of the roads.

    You clearly don’t understand the whole point about the Nano concept and how they got the price down to $2000 – the lean mean functional design philosophy. Nano is not about unsafe design or cheap design as many in the US seem to think, it is about intelligent no frills design – in other words get rid of anything that isn’t strictly necessary or functional, and focus only on what is.

    Meeting all statutory safety regulations and environmental regulations, driving at the statutory speed limits, are all essential, so Nano meets those. In India it meets Indian crash test and environmental regulations which are the same as the European Crash test and environmental regulations of 3 years ago. In Europe and US it will have to be redesigned to meet all national crash test and environmental requirements without unnecessary over-specification in order to keep to the same lean and mean design concept. It has passed European NCAP crash tests with flying colours with minor modifications, and a very good 4 star NCAP rating is expected with just a drivers air bag. I believe the US NCAP crash tests have a lower frontal impact speed and a higher side impact speed than European crash test regulations. Therefore the US version will probably need to be modified differently from European version. Indian crash test standards will be brought into line with current European standards, so the Nano Europa will become the standard Indian version shortly. The Nano has an advanced safety cell and crumple zone like the Smart car, and its structure is very crash safe. Unfortunately in order to meet US regulations side airbags and catalytic converters which are expensive pieces of kit, are probably mandated, which is what pushes the price up.

    The US/European version will be similar to the SMART in specification. 1000cc 60hp 3 cylinder engine, 0-60mph in 8 seconds, max speed about 90mph, and a 4 Star NCAP rating.

    4) Caffiend: You can always get cheaper used cars. There are risks with buying a used car though – with a new car you have a warranty and at least you know what you are getting, and you won’t have to pay for expensive maintenance. Also most older cars will have a lower crash test rating than the Nano, as crash test standards have been updated in recent years.

    Used cars can be cheap to buy but expensive to run and maintain. Don’t forget with the Nano, you also get 4.55 L/100 km (22 km/L, 51.7 mpg (US), 62 mpg (UK)) under city road conditions, and 3.85 L/100 km on highways (26 km/L, 61.1 mpg (US), 73.3 mpg (UK)), so it is cheap to run as well – unlike a second hand car.

    5) Russycle: The Nano fills a particular niche – in isn’t intended for everybody. It is a no frills urban runabout, a second car for shopping trips to Walmart and dropping the kids in school, a car for students on a tight budget, a fun car to put on a trailer behind a motorhome as we often see with the Smart etc.

  • avatar

    MPS: hint those NCAP stars only involve a crash with one car. I could fill a ranger with petrol,flares and hand grenades sans pins , crash into you in the nano and still come out on top.

  • avatar

    NCAP involves a car crashing against a solid concrete block fixed rigidly to earth. It is a lot worse than crashing into another car, because the other car will have a crumple zone which will soften the impact. Crashing into a static concrete block at 40mph is the same as two cars crashing into each other at a relative speed of 80mph (ie. both travelling at 40mph and colliding head on).

    Here is a crash between a Mercedes Benz S-Class and a Smart Car which demonstrates this (The Smart is roughly the same weight, size and NCAP rating as the US/European Nano will be).

    Notice how the Smart slices through the Merc’s crumple zone, until the Merc’s safety cage stops it. Although the Smart bounced off and turned over, it protected its occupants – its safety cage is not penetrated, the doors open, and the windscreen is intact. The Merc’s occupants are also safe – the Mercedes Benz S class’s NCAP rating is 5 star and is is one of the safest vehicles on the road.

    If the Smart had hit a Ford Ranger at the same speed, it would have been a different story. The Smart would have cut into the other vehicle’s crumple zone as in the Merc, but it would have also cut into the Ford Ranger’s passenger compartment and killed the occupants.

    The Ford Ranger makes a great demolition derby entry, because it is big and crumples up spectacularly, but does it protect its occupants in a crash? Absolutely not.

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