Indian business magnate Ratan Tata has just taken the covers off the car that could open up car ownership to millions within the sub-continent’s billion-strong population. It’s called the Tata Nano, and Autocar can bring you pictures of it, together with all the specifics.Ratan Tata introduced his much-anticipated ‘lakh car’ (a lakh being India’s colloquial term for 100,000 rupees – about £1300) to an expectant crowd at the New Delhi motor show only hours ago. Having pledged to engineer a car for the many millions of India’s families for whom a motorbike is the primary means of transportation, he posed for photographs in the Nano, saying “a promise is a promise.”
India’s ‘People’s Car’ in detail
At just over three metres in length, the Nano is longer than a Smart Fortwo but shorter than a Mitsubishi i. The twin-cylinder, 623cc petrol engine powering it drives the rear wheels, and sits directly above them to the right of the rear of the car, with a four-speed manual gearbox immediately to its left.The car’s monobox design means that its cabin can accommodate four six-foot adults, entering through its four doors. Although it’s considerably shorter than India’s current top-selling car, the Maruti 800, it has 21 per cent more passenger space.The Tata Nano weighs around 600kg. Developing 32bhp at 5500rpm, its parallel twin petrol engine delivers only modest performance – Tata claims 0-44mph in 14secs and between 66- and 70mph flat out. And with high-profile 12in wheels as standard, and unassisted drum brakes at each corner, braking performance should be similarly modest.However, Tata insists that this car conforms to all of India’s crash and emissions guidelines. If the mission that brought it to the road succeeds, it will provide the millions of families who commute on a single motorbike a much safer means of getting from A to B.
Next for the Nano
The Tata Nano will go on sale in India later this year. When production hits full stride, Tata expects to be making a million of them every year and, although it is without creature comforts such as air conditioning, power steering and electric window at the moment, better specced versions will come later.Tata's plan is to export the Nano to the UK and the rest of continental Europe, but only after it is established in India.Also mooted by Tata is a diesel-engined variant which should better the petrol’s 57mpg and its CO2 emissions.