World's Cheapest Stripper Bites the Dust; Disinterested Public Barely Mourns
While our Ace of Base series delights in revealing just how bargain basement a mainstream vehicle can get, none of those rides hold a candle to the spartan purgatory that was the Tata Nano.
Billed as the world’s cheapest car upon its release in 2008, the Indian-market four-door was tailor-made to lure that country’s growing market of would-be vehicle owners off motorcycles and into a car with two cylinders, 37 horsepower, and a rear hatch that didn’t open.
Not unexpectedly, the vehicle quickly developed a stigma.
Cheap? Yes it was. Oh so cheap. Roughly $2,000 a decade ago, but now $3,500. New features, like a working hatch, found their way into the Nano over the ensuing years. And how about that automated manual transmission? No more four-speed stick for some buyers…
As the country’s GDP grew, and along with it the Indian middle class, Nano sales rose accordingly, but not by as much as Tata Motors had hoped. Initially pegging demand at a quarter million vehicles per year, Tata saw the Nano’s sales peak at just under 75,000 in the financial year 2011-2012. In FY 2016-2017, just 7,591 vehicles rolled off lots.
Frankly, India’s “people’s car” was just too cheap, too bare bones, and not aspirational enough. Safety on India’s notoriously congested and relatively lawless highways was another concern. Germany once crash tested the Nano and found it warranted zero stars.
As Bloomberg reports, the market has spoken. Tata built a single Nano in June, despite new car sales in the world’s second most populous country growing by 38 percent. The automaker, parent company of Jaguar Land Rover, said the Nano in its “present form cannot continue beyond 2019.”
However, it seems the company still feels some sort of future could exist for the little runabout. Tata told Bloomberg that the Nano “may need fresh investments to survive” — an understatement, given the model’s nonexistent sales.
[Images: Tata Motors]
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I suggest you look up "disinterested" vs "uninterested". Yes, they are two wildly different things. No, a millenial declaring otherwise out of thin air doesn't change that.
Part of the Nano's problem was Tata's own Magic Iris commercial vehicle. It sells for about the same price as the Nano, has a 12.5 hp diesel engine, and can carry more people. It also doesn't have the stigma of being the world's cheapest car. Also, Ratan Tata underestimated the aspirations of Indians to whom he hoped to sell the Nano.