Nano: small car, huge missed opportunity?

Tata Motors, India’s largest automaker, has unveiled its highly anticipated new car, The Nano. Touted as “the people’s car,” the Nano will be available for under $2000 (100,000 rupees) and, according to Tata Motors, will revolutionize the way 1.1 billion Indians get around. While the global auto industry watches closely to see how this might reshape the car biz, critics suggest that for such a small car it represents a giant missed opportunity.

It’s a car, you say. A giant missed opportunity? And why are people calling it an environmental disaster? Normally, a car that gets 55.5 miles-per-gallon and emits less carbon than most motorcycles is welcomed as a good thing for the environment. After all, few of the cars being released this year in the U.S. get anything near 55 mpg. But this car is not so much a step forwards as it is a step sideways. Put another way, it’s being touted not for advancing the technologies of tomorrow but for making the technologies of yesterday ultra-cheap.

That’s the disappointment. If this is such an industry-changing event, it’s a double whammy. First, its success could spell a paradigm shift away from expensive alternative technologies in favor of making current technologies more affordable. Second, it might mean millions more cars on the streets of a developing country already plagued by pollution, congestion and an overwhelmed infrastructure.

Oh, and the Nano is expected to make its US debut in two to three years.

  • Tags: Brands, Business, Climate Change, Places, Technology
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