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World's Cheapest Car Coming to U.S.?

World's Cheapest Car Coming to U.S.?

By Jeff Youngs, October 18, 2012
One of India's top-volume automakers, Tata Motors, plans by 2015 to launch a next-generation version of its tiny Nano in the United States. Once hailed as the world's cheapest car, the Nano is priced in India at the equivalent of under $3,000. If it reaches the U.S. market, it might retail for less than $10,000. And, if U.S. gas prices continue to remain high, this egg-shaped micro-car that looks a little like a Smart Fortwo could be an attractive possible mode of transportation in the U.S. market, where smaller vehicles are increasingly popular. In India, the tiny car is said to be rated at 48 mpg.

Since the Nano was introduced in July 2009, only 215,000 have been sold, according to India's local media reports. Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, told Automotive News, an auto industry publication, that the Nano designated for the U.S. market will be redesigned and have a bigger engine and more features such as power steering and traction control and safety features, including air bags, but still may sell for under $10,000.

Mr. Tata initially announced the possibility of bringing a Nano to the U.S. market in 2011 at an important world auto show in Geneva, Switzerland, according to Green Car Reports. The Indian manufacturer also hopes to build a Nano for the European market, where small, fuel-efficient cars are already popular. Tata Motors also is the parent of Jaguar Land Rover in the UK. Currently, Tata is the third-best-selling brand in the Indian market after Maruti-Suzuki and international brand Hyundai, according to J.D. Power research.

At this time, there is no plan for setting up a way for U.S. consumers to buy the Nano and it is unlikely that these tiny cars would be sold through Jaguar or Land Rover dealerships. The chief official at Tata also told the media this week that it is too early to talk about how these models will be sold in the United States.

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