An Indian Roller Exclusive...
India's Tata Motoring Group (TMG) unveiled the world's cheapest car, Nano, billing it the "people's car." And like the legendary Volkswagen Beetle, from which the Nano draws its "people's car" moniker, it is rear-engined. TMG plans to ship the first orders of Nano in April 2009.
"The Nano is proof-positive that small is beautiful, affordable, and eco-friendly." remarked Rattan Tata, Chairman of TMG,"It's an Italian design created for the Indian people -- very much like the President of Indian National Congress." Tata was referring to Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born head of India's ruling political party. Tata added that while Gandhi had been working on the upliftment of economic conditions for the poor, TMG had been pursuing more transportation solutions for India's poor. "We have a duty to promote this car to the poor," he remarked.
Sunshine Media, the advertising & media company hired by TMG to promote the Nano announced this month that the company has finalized a three-part commercial featuring Robin Williams, the veteran Hollywood comedian and movie star. Williams, who starred as Mork, an anthropomorphic alien, in the 1970's hit-show, Mork and Mindy, made the alien character famous with his trademark alien greeting, "Nanu, Nanu!" In the new commercials for the Nano car, Williams is expected to reprise his alien impersonation but alter his greeting to say "Nano, Nano!"
Tata Motors is going ahead with initial production target of 250,000 Nanos a year despite concerns about its impact on the environment and its design limitations. The launch of Nano has alarmed the Go-Green movement in India which claims that Nano is just another "carbon-emitting, gas-powered vehicle". "It is not a solution,"said Rajivendra Preachauri,"the people of India need mass-transit, not gas-transit." He added that the sight of Nanos clogging up India's gridlocked streets will be akin to a horror movie, like the "Invasion of Tata Nanobots".
The Tall Clubs International (www.tall.org), a worldwide consortium of tall people, has issued a formal protest to Tata Motors claiming that the car's cabin space and lack of headroom discriminates against tall people. Billie Jeanette Maurisen, the 2008 Miss Tallest International remarked that this was another instance that tall people were not consulted at any stage of the design process. "Italy, where the Nano was designed, has a lot of tall people."Maurisen said,"You would think that Tata Motors would care to involve tall people in the design and development process."
Responding to criticism about the size of the car, Ratan Tata explained that the "Nano" means "less" in Gujarati. "The poor in India are short and thin." Tata added, "Making the Nano any bigger would turn the brand into an oxymoron. In fact, we have tried to make the Nano less of a car in every way possible."
According to Tata, staying true to TMG's goal for the Nano as "less of a car" was "paramount". The car has one less wing nut than the statutory four nuts. It has one windscreen wiper instead of the standard two wipers. It has one less sideview mirror and less welded parts than a regular car. Many of the external parts of the Nano are held together with glue.
"The Nano proves to the automobile aficionados that less is more." said Tata.