Can the World Handle the World’s Cheapest Car?

Today the Streetsblog Network
takes us to India, where some fear the recent launch of the
highly-anticipated $2,000 Tata Nano — a.k.a. the "world’s cheapest
car" — will wreak havoc on the environment and already crowded public
spaces. Hard Drive has the story: 

medium_tata_nano_1.jpg.jpegPhoto via Hard Drive

India’s middle class is on the rise, as is the desire to ape Western
commercialism. As a result, many people still see a car ownership as a
point of pride, a symbol of individual progress, despite growing
problems with air quality and gridlock.

On a recent trip to India, the manager of a tire company told me
many of his neighbors were putting their names into a Nano lottery to
be the first to own their first car. That worried him. "The roads are
beyond capacity now," he said. "How will they hold millions of more
cars?"

Earlier this week, Tata Motors announced its intent to expand into European and US markets.
Said company chair Ratan Tata: "This was never conceived as the
cheapest car, but as providing transport to those people who never
owned a car." You’ve been warned.

Also on the Network: Hub and Spokes reflects on keeping cities like New York affordable; Portland Transport looks into a new transit-timing tool from the makers of Walk Score; a study cited by Bicycle Fixation reveals that bike lanes are good for business; Cap’n Transit checks up on the Red Hook Tunnel Bus; and more.

  • This is not good for traffic or the environment, but could be semi-good for individuals who couldn’t afford a car and now have access to quicker transportation.

    Still, I think this car is inappropriate for the U.S.. No airbags, no AC, no radio. It would basically be a novelty here, and I think there is a lot of work and upgrade they’d need to do to upgrade it to U.S./CA emissions standards.

    Heard an interview about this on NPR the other day. They said that, if you assume people who currently ride mopeds will switch to this car in India, it would actually be a bit of a win for the environment since moped exhaust is dirtier than this car’s exhaust. Still, the excess traffic this will cause in the already packed streets of India will be legendary, I predict.

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