Thursday, January 10, 2008

The $2500 People's Car

Today was a momentous day - the introduction of the Tata Nano - a car priced at $2500-3000 that will open up the auto market for the masses. This could be the 21st century Model T. I couldn't help but be excited by the fact that it took an Indian company to create this kind of fundamental innovation.

Here's a link to the article:

Here's my comment to much of the unusual criticism:

This is a huge milestone. I’m impressed that this came from an Indian company rather than a Chinese one. It demonstrates out-of-the-box thinking in opening up personal car travel for a whole new market.

As a person who frequently travels to India, this may not have all the terrible consequences that people imagine - much of which is hypocritical.

Rather than that family of four on a little scooter, this would be a heck of a lot safer. A lot of those scooters and rickshaws emit some ugly stuff. This would actually burn cleaner with a lot less soot. Maybe a lot of those rickshaw drivers would buy these vehicles instead allowing for safer, faster and cleaner travel (really hope they have a natural gas option). Vehicles may actually stay to their lane with fewer scooters and rickshaws. It’s a bit freaky when you see scooters, motorcycles, rickshaws and cars cram into every available inch of space.

People may now expect a better travel experience than before. There might be more demand for newer, cleaner burning buses and mass transit. There might be demand for better infrastructure and more effective traffic management.

120,000 rupees is a little over $3,000 dollars. It’s still expensive for many, but they have made vehicles affordable for a wide range of people. This would allow greater mobility and greater participation in the workforce. Right now, it is hard for a woman to work evening hours because the transport options are limited - understandably, scooters are not a great option at night. Hell, maybe we’ll buy a few so that our folks who work late can go home without a problem.

Congratulations to Tata!

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