Tata Nano

Tata Nano


Tata Nano, manufactured by the Indian automotive giant Tata Motors, is the world's cheapest car.


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"It used to get more attention than a Lamborghini on the road" Cyrus Dhabhar says.

The automotive journalist is talking about the Tata Nano, an Indian compact vehicle that was hailed as "the world's cheapest car" when it was unveiled in 2008. It's tough to imagine any vehicle generating more curiosity than an iconic supercar like a Lamborghini. But the Nano captured the world's imagination when Ratan Tata, head of the Tata business conglomerate, drove it onto the podium at the 2008 India Auto Expo in New Delhi.

The initial price Tata put on it was 100,000 Indian rupees (about $2,500 at the time). "Everyone was so impressed because no one expected to see that sort of car for that price" Dhabhar, who was at the unveiling, tells TIME.

The "people's car," as Tata called it, was meant to be a small, safe, family-friendly—and of course affordable—alternative to the motorcycles and scooters that are popular runabouts for India's middle classes. Tata first envisioned the Nano when he saw a family of four perched precariously on a two-wheeler. It was a great concept and one that was executed well. The asking price was also a great hook, although in practice, with taxes and popular add-ons like power steering and air-conditioning, Nanos never really left the factory that cheaply.


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