Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tata Nano Delivered and It Will be a Good Ride !!

The first three Nano's were delivered today, by none other than Mr. Ratan Tata. Irrespective of all the news coverage and possible negativities because of a cheap car, I think this is going to be a good ride, especially for 10 reasons.

See the SIM working paper "#11 - Not So Fast For Nano Car", reviewing the urban transport sector in India and possible impact of the Nano cars on urban air pollution.

The 10 reasons why we will be OK with Nano cars on the road.

1. The production rates are lower than the consumption rates. Currently at 60,000 a year is only expected to grow as much as 300,000 per year. So, we have other manufacturers to worry about. See the Delhi case.

2. The car is expected to give 20+ km per liter, which is not bad. For in city travel, this is a good measure and means a direct reduction in the air pollution and greenhouse emissions (direct exhaust).

3. The possibility of more vehicles on the road, mostly coming from the conversion of motorcycle folks to first time car owners, is a valid concern. But, the economics of the fuel consumption will be a concern for someone who uses motorcycle on a daily basis.

4. Only the first 100,000 Nano cars are marked for Rs.100,000 per car. So, the cheap price is not for ever. And with all the extra charges for amenities and taxes, there is bound to be an additional cost of at least 15 to 20 percent.

5. With the mounting costs of production, including all the physical movement of the plants from West Bengal to Gujarat, is expected to bring the car costs to as high as Rs. 200,000 when the production reaches its peak in 2010.

6. It's not always about the cars. The question is where is the alternative for the public, if not a motorcycle or a car. While the private sector is promoting (and doing their best) the car culture, the Government is having their share of troubles and delays in getting the buses on road.

7. The cars will be on the road. Somehow, owning a car has become the norm for social status. Most often, the Nano car is being bought as a second car, which means either some substitutional miles reducing the fuel consumption and emissions on the road or more a weekend get away miles. In either case, the problem of congestion should be the same or minimum, given the production rates of Nano alone. The problem remains the overall increase in the number of cars, and not just about the Nano.

8. Parking problems are plenty in the Urban India. With a small car, parking should make it easy.

9. The safety is always an issue - both for the driver and the pedestrian. At least with a small car and a small engine, we are not expecting guzzling speeds on the road.

10. The motorcycles are polluting and the new emission norms make the Nano car cleaner and less polluting, meaning less air pollution, meaning less exposure to harmful pollutants. However, a problem worth looking into is the road dust and not the vehicle emissions.

Some recent coverage on Nano

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