The Tata Nano should have been a hit. It’s the cheapest car available today. One Indian rating agency thought that the Nano--priced at about $3,500 in India--could have expanded the car market in the country by 65%. That didn’t happen, possibly because the Nano is still more expensive than motorcycles, which are extremely popular in India. Nonetheless, Tata announced this week that it’s planning on bringing the Nano to the U.S.
Details are slim, but Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, told Automotive News that the U.S. model will be more sophisticated than the Indian version--meaning it will have a larger engine, traction control, and power steering. The Indian Nano lacks air conditioning (in the base model) and air bags; presumably these features will be available in the new Nano. Air bags, of course, have to be included.
Those changes don’t come cheap. The new Nano will be more expensive than the Indian version. It will, however, remain under $10,000, which makes it a bargain by any standard. The vehicle’s small size makes it ideal for city driving, and its high gas mileage (56 mpg for the Indian Nano) should appeal to anyone sick of high gas prices.
Tata hasn’t revealed how the car will be distributed. That’s not surprising; the company doesn’t have any sort of distribution network in the U.S. It’s one of a handful of reasons why Car and Driver doesn’t think the Nano will ever make it stateside. We will find out soon, though--the Nano is scheduled to arrive within three years.