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Originally published Monday, April 6, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Tata Nano: Driving India into the future

Which of these facts about the Tata Nano is correct?

In these times of worldwide economic insecurity, India's Tata Motors has attained global fame for producing the world's cheapest car, the Nano. Despite numerous difficulties in moving the car from the drawing board to the showroom floor, Tata is confident the Nano will be successful in India, where only eight of every 1,000 individuals own a car. Which of these facts about the Tata Nano is correct?

A. Its horsepower is comparable to that of a lawnmower

B. It is inspired by the Model T

C. It is a relatively safe car

D. All the above

Which of these facts about the Tata Nano is correct?

A. Its horsepower is comparable to that of a lawnmower is correct.

Priced at 100,000 rupees, or $2,000, the Tata Nano is the world's cheapest car and requires a down payment of only $70. While it reaches a top speed of only 65 mph, that is more than double the average road speed in India. At about 50 mpg, the car is very fuel-efficient. This is partly because of Nano's lightweight, two-cylinder engine, which generates about 35 horsepower — roughly 10 times that of most lawn mowers.

B. It is inspired by the Model T is correct.

The Tata Nano is widely viewed as the equivalent to the Ford Model T. While the Model T revolutionized U.S. middle-class life a century ago, many observers predict the Nano will have a similar effect on India's rapidly growing middle class. Tata chairman Ratan Tata, with his trademark modesty, confessed to a lesser ambition, saying he just wanted to keep a promise that he had made to the Indian public — and to the world — of creating a car for less than 100,000 rupees.

C. It is a relatively safe car is correct.

The Nano is built to meet all safety specifications in India, but its possible launch elsewhere — including the rest of South Asia and Europe and potentially the United States — would require additional safety features, which, in turn, would cause production costs to rise. Still, the Nano is a safer transportation option for most Indian families who now ride on motorcycles with as many as five people — and usually without helmets for passengers.

D. All the above is correct.

Tata's biggest concern is keeping up with demand for the Nano. From the millions of orders expected, the company will use a lottery system to determine who gets the first 100,000 cars. However, because of production constraints, the company will be able to deliver only 35,000 cars in 2009.

2009 The Globalist. All rights reserved. www.theglobalist.com

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