The Media Guru
Jan 24, 2008

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The Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car, the People’s car, the impossible dream made true…
- Air Conditioning
- Power Steering
- Heater & Defroster
- Radio & CD player (& Speakers)
- Power Windows
- Dual Airbags
- Traction Control
- Rear Wiper
- ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)
- Adjustable seats
- Left Side Door Mirror
- Cruise Control
- Rear seat belts
- Tachometer (RPM Meter)
- Anti-theft device (or alarm) with central locking
- Spare wheel
Are some of the (standard) features it doesn’t have…

The People’s Car, as Ratan Tata describes it, is a 1-Lakh rupee car ($2500 - £1250 - Rs.75000). It has a 623cc 33hp rear engine, brakes, a four-gear manual transmission, seatbelts, locking, wind-down windows, a steering wheel & is 3,100,000,000 nanometres long. It has also a small boot at the front. That’s in the standard version (red car).

To save $10, Tata engineers redesigned the suspension to eliminate actuators in the headlights, the levelers that adjust the angle of the beam depending on how the car is loaded…
That’s one small example of how Tata have managed to make that car really really cheap… But there’s more - the body has been glued together instead of the more expensive welding, it has an aluminium engine (with the same power of a small outboard boat engine or that of a lawn-mower) & the transmission system used in the Tata Nano had been originally designed by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Just as the Japanese popularized Kanban (just in time) and Kaizen (continuous improvement), Indians could export a kind of “Gandhian Engineering,” combining irreverence for conventional ways of thinking with a frugality born of scarcity.

The deluxe version (yellow car) has air conditioning & some other options.

Even the deluxe version is extremely stripped-down…

The Specs:
Powertrain
- Engine:
- 2 cylinder petrol with Bosch multi-point fuel injection (single injector) all aluminium 623 cc (38 cu in)
- 2 valves per cylinder overhead camshaft
- Compression ratio - 9.5:1
- bore × stroke 73.5 × 73.5 mm
- Power: 33 PS (33 hp/24 kW) @ 5500 rpm
- Torque: 48 N·m (35 ft·lbf) @ 2500 rpm
- Rear wheel drive, 4-speed manual transmission
- Steering – mechanical rack and pinion

Performance
- Acceleration: 0-70 km/h (43 mph): 14 seconds
- Maximum speed: 105 km/h (65 mph)
- Fuel economy (combined City + Highway): 20 kilometres per litre (5 L/100 km, 47 US mpg, 56 UK mpg)

Body & Dimensions
- Seat Belts: 2
- Trunk capacity: 30 L (1.1 cu ft)

Suspension, tires and brakes
- Front brake: disc
- Rear brake: drum
- Front track: 1,325 mm (52.2 in)
- Rear track: 1,315 mm (51.8 in)
- Ground clearance: 180 mm (7.1 in)
- Front suspension: McPherson strut with lower A arm
- Rear suspension: Independent coil spring
- 12-inch wheels

Stylish, comfortable
The People’s Car, designed with a family in mind, has a roomy passenger compartment with generous leg space and head room. It can comfortably seat four persons. Four doors with high seating position make ingress and egress easy.

Yet with a length of 3.1 metres, width of 1.5 metres and height of 1.6 metres, with adequate ground clearance, it can effortlessly manoeuvre on busy roads in cities as well as in rural areas. Its mono-volume design, with wheels at the corners and the powertrain at the rear, enables it to uniquely combine both space and manoeuvrability, which will set a new benchmark among small cars.

When launched, the car will be available in both standard and deluxe versions. Both versions will offer a wide range of body colours, and other accessories so that the car can be customised to an individual’s preferences.
No doubt about that… the Nano will be a massive success in India. It is indeed a dream come true for people who wanted to switch from their two-wheeler to a proper car… the Maruti 800 was the only alternative then, but it was not a proper car. The Nano is more spacious & is more affordable. Finally everyone can drive a real car… at least for Indians. Most Asian people are short & will comfortably fit in the Nano. But “normal” people will find it really hard to drive the standard version without the reclining & movable seats. As for the back seat, that would be reserved for children.
The lack of air-conditioning will be mostly felt during heat waves… & in the traffic jams.
For an ultra-low-cost car, you don’t expect the exquisite design of a Ferrari or a Lamborghini… but it is indeed an ugly hatchback. The aerodynamics can be reworked to give a better (& safer) front look & coax more speed out of this car. & the centre of gravity can be further lowered to provide better stability & to prevent roll-overs…

Fuel-efficient engine
The People’s Car has a rear-wheel drive, all-aluminium, two-cylinder, 623 cc, 33 PS, multi point fuel injection petrol engine. This is the first time that a two-cylinder gasoline engine is being used in a car with single balancer shaft. The lean design strategy has helped minimise weight, which helps maximise performance per unit of energy consumed and delivers high fuel efficiency. Performance is controlled by a specially designed electronic engine management system.
Selling a car at Rs. 100,000 requires quite a lot of sacrifices… & the Tata Nano excels in that. It’s supposed to be environmental-friendly since it is made from recyclable material (the same junk the scrap metal dealers stole off your backyard last year), & an all-aluminium small engine with low weight ratio (the weight is around 500kg). At 5L/100km, the engineers have done a marvellous job. However it does have a particular disadvantage… to preserve costs, the maximum speed is limited at 70Km/h… meaning the car parts (such as the wheel bearings) are made to sustain speeds up to 70Km/h. & if by mistake you go beyond 70… the car will literally disintegrate!
All these calculations have been made considering only the driver… Add in a whole family, the fuel consumption will increase & the car will be much slower!

Meets all safety requirements
The People’s Car’s safety performance exceeds current regulatory requirements. With an all sheet-metal body, it has a strong passenger compartment, with safety features such as crumple zones, intrusion-resistant doors, seat belts, strong seats and
anchorages, and the rear tailgate glass bonded to the body. Tubeless tyres further enhance safety.
This is where the Tata Nano fails heavily… even though it may have passed (prehistoric) Indian safety laws… it is a potential risk to owners. Even the addition of airbags won’t help it pass EU safety standards. For frontal & backward collisions, the car may not crumple enough to prevent fatal injuries due to its design… As for side collisions, safety is nil - because it doesn’t have a collision bar inside the doors.
Even if the car can’t go beyond 70km/h, other cars can… & those cars have better protection than the Nano.
& even the long-term reliability of the car is being questioned. Using cheaper parts will mean it requires more maintenance than is normally required & those parts will have to be frequently replaced.

Environment-friendly
The People’s Car’s tailpipe emission performance exceeds regulatory requirements. In terms of overall pollutants, it has a lower pollution level than two-wheelers being manufactured in India today. The high fuel efficiency also ensures that the car has low carbon dioxide emissions, thereby providing the twin benefits of an affordable transportation solution with a low carbon footprint.
Total rubbish! The Tata Nano is a global threat to human survival. Unlike what Tata suggests, it pollutes more than a two-wheeler. It may pass the Euro IV emissions, but it fails miserably in more stringent tests. While the car by itself is less polluting… add up all the emissions of a million like these & its disaster. & because it is extremely cheap, numbers can range from a few million to around 50 million cars! Of course, proponents would say that other cars pollute just as much. But that shouldn’t be a reason for being environment-unfriendly, while the rest of the world is going green with hybrids, cleaner diesels, electric cars, fuel-cell cars & hydrogen-powered cars. If the same car was to be launched in 5 years time, it could have been entirely electric!
Other problems include traffic congestion. The Tata Nano is a car, not a motorcycle & takes up space on roads, meaning higher traffic, more congestion & more pollution…

Can you beat China at its own game - make something cheaper than the Chinese? In the next few years, expect around 25 different Tata clones to crop up in China which is half less expensive & pollutes twice more! The Tata Nano will inevitably lead to an arms-race of low-cost, unsafe & polluting cars.
& of course, the Tata Nano doesn’t run on water - it runs on petrol! Will it really be a People’s car in a few years time, when victim of its own success, it would have made oil prices go beyond the $250 mark?

Since no test car has been given out to reviewers, & that Top Gear hasn’t yet tested it out (or rather blown it up or smashed or crashed or drowned or simply destroyed it), nothing can be said of its road performance.
Is the Tata Nano on track to replace the VW Beetle as the most shameful car in human history?

More on the Tata Nano:
Official Press Release
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tata_nano
More photos
Tata fanboy - Why critics of the Tata small car are barking up the wrong tree
NYTimes.com article

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Anonymous said...

WTF?? Its glued :lol:

No way I buy this, I prefer to buy the old Mini 1000. :P

InF said...

Duh... come'on folks! It's not THAT bad! :s

It's better than a motorcycle in that you will not suffer from bad weather and intense sun-generated heat. It's also relatively safer.

And it's cheap, so people will at least have a mode of transportation. Eg. At least now, some daddies and mommies will be able to drop off their kids at school. It also allows them more mobility and mobility brings development. Let's not be pessimists.. :P

siva said...

simplyyyyyyyy the BESTTTTTTTTTTTT !!!!!!!
three cheers to TATA

Anonymous said...

please don't treat the VW Beetle as the most shameful car in human history... what's the basis for your comment????

Whether Tata Nano goes up or down will be determined by people and isolated frustrated views should not cloud common thinking!!!

carrotmadman6 said...

@Anonymous
That comment has been made by Top Gear, not me. They have an acute abhorrence for these type of cars!

:P

Anonymous said...

Tata Nano just been launched...will the Gandhian Engineering be commercially successful?

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