Say no to the Nano

Hey, I have nothing against the iPod, but unless you live under a rock, (and apologies if you do) you’ve probably heard about Tata Motors, and their new car, the Nano.

Yes, residents of the country that wants to cut down on rickshaws in Delhi are going to be able to buy a car for $2,500. Someone is going to have to explain to me the math here. They want to get 400,000 rickshaws off the roads, due to traffic considerations. But Tata plans to produce 250,000 of his cheap cars each year, and his factory will be expandable to 350,000. I would hardly call this progress.

In the comments to the editor section, I found this gem:

Thom ,USA,says:It is about time there was some forward thinking in the auto industry. The perfect car for the masses in poverty stricken countries. Who knows it may even be a good fit in the USA some time in the future”

I’m not so sure that cheap cars is the solution for poverty. India still has health care issues. The pollution generated by an additional 250,000 cars is probably not going to help matters. How are these poor people getting around now? Walking, riding bikes, taking public transport? By mid-2008, they can become fat and lazy motorists, like Americans. [disclaimer: I am a fat and lazy American. But I’m working on it.]

One of the greatest ironies here is that this wonderful car is not at all good for the American economy either. Tata hinted at future plans to sell the cars in China. Right now, part of the reason for rising fuel costs ($100/barrel for crude!) is the growing demand for petrol in China. But the growth in China is also driving up prices for metals as well as plenty of other goods, and that is being felt worldwide.

Not to go off on a tangent here, but US farmers have abandoned certain staples in order to grow more corn for ethanol. Last I checked, it took about 1.2 gallons of gas to get a gallon of ethanol, which has lower potential energy. So even my car-free friends are feeling the pinch at the grocery store, since our misguided government has decided that making fuel from corn is a great idea.

I think my rant has lost it’s focus, but the gist of it was that I’m opposed to the Nano. It’s not really a solution to an existing problem, more of another way for Mr. Tata to pat himself on the back. He should have designed the $25 bicycle. Or better yet, a better rickshaw.

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Hey, the sooner they burn through the little oil left, the sooner they can move on to the next attempt at self-destruction.


Hello big American hypocrite!

Maybe your scathing criticism would be better spent on the country that consumes 14 more energy per capita than India?


Greg, India has nearly four times the population of the US, with roughly 70% of Indians living in rural areas that probably don’t even have reliable electricity. That alone would go a long way towards explaining their lower comparative energy usage.

But their GDP is less than 10% of that of the US. And like China, they’ve proven that they would like to do nothing more than emulate the US when it comes to personal wealth and consumption. The Nano is already being compared to the Model T.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana (1863–1952)

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