Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Nano. One-billionth.

For a country of 1 billion-plus, this is a dream come true.

A car that costs just double a motor-cycle. Rs. 1 lakh (100,000). About US$ 2500. The cheapest car on the planet - and with Euro 3 emission norms.

We are about to see a revolution in manufacturing in India. Tata wants to build a million of these little things immediately. They will all be sold. All of them.

The amazing thing is how tenacious Ratan Tata has been about this project. He wanted his car to be made - and he wanted it to be a 4 door - real car.

So what if it has only one windshield wiper and no place for a radio. It is one of those break-through events that define what our industry can do.

How much can be done if we are passionate about it. Our greatest enemy is lethargy. The old-fashioned vice of sloth is not talked about much these days - in fact it is quietly lionised in the media-consuming mass that we have become.

More than the Ambanis and their fabulous wealth - I admire Mr Tata's drive and ability to translate what seemed total folly to many into reality.

A couple of generations ago, a humble German car changed the way the country worked. Take a look:
Will Nano do something similar in India? Lets see.


  1. Curious on your take on the Nano -- and its effects on the environment. Thomas Friedman has said that India is foolish to rush in the world's cheapest cars to clog its already over-strapped infrastructure and pollute its air, when it should bypass the mistakes of the West, and jump to mass transit and a green transportation solution.

    Will a tiny car transform India for the better? Or the worse?

  2. We have mass transport already - the trains in Mumbai crush a good 2 million or so commuters in and out each day. The interesting thing in Friedman's statement is that he totally sidesteps the issue of corruption - the chief reason for the creaking infrastructure - not overuse. The Nano is 2 gen ahead of the current set of vehicles on the road in terms of emissions - and the romantic view of scooters and other 2 wheelers forgets how much they pollute too. Maybe Mr. Friedman wants India to build Priuses? At the current oil rates (we pay an additional almost 100% in taxes) we will see a weeding out of anything remotely unviable in MPG.

    The more intersting issue is whether green fuels are surpassing bellies where edible oils should be going. An interesting article in NYT talked about the rise in the cost of palm oil due to biofuels becoming so much more profitable...