Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tata and 2500 dollar car!


I become extremely ecstatic whenever I read about India in the international dailies. And that too when they laud about India's efforts to make a difference in the international arena, it makes me rapturous. The days where people think of snakes and poor people, when talked about India have gone. India is a much better country these days in technological advancements, education and research. I felt a trivial pride in typing the previous line. Many countries are looking upto Indian education system and I read a week ago that quite a few of Japanese schools are trying to adopt the Indian education system. Japan is known for their technological innovations and hardwork. Now, they look upto India for their basic education methodologies. And a lot of students from foreign countries come to India for education, which is yet another thing to be proud of(The fact that people used to come Nalanda univ in those days and the same thing reviving now is definitely a good sign for us).

And coming to the title of my post, the whole world is looking for the "1-lakh car" that tata is planning to release in April'08. And it is codenamed "People's car" by Ratan Tata. There was an article in New York times today and it said that the cost of this car(2500 USD) is cheaper than an in-dash DVD player that is found in luxury SUVs in US. That comparison sounded a little funny to me and I smiled. Back in 80s, when Japan concentrated on the small and economy cars, the whole world was contemplating on their success and the technology they were adopting. Today, it is India, who's making the other countries to look at us. And our roads, our economic condition, population, etc., have made this "People's car" a highly-potential car for success in India. When two-wheelers cost around 60-70k INR(around 1800 USD), a four wheeler for just 2500 USD is definitely a deal for many people in India.

If Tata is from Germany or US of A, he would not even have thought about this idea. It is made, just for India. The car holds a 40 bhp/600CC engine and clocks a top-speed of 75 mph. It lacks Air condition, Radio, power steering, power windows and many other features which are found in 90% of the cars today. But who cares? It was primarily designed for those two-wheeler families in India, who don't have to get drenched in rain or wither in the shine. Tata has also used cheap plastics for the car's body and welding in place of rivets. And a lot more "little out of conventional" manufacturing standards. The major downside would be the safety norms and the emission standards(for India is expected to conform to Euro IV norms by 2010).
This car is not designed for Autobahns or Freeways and am sure it would be ideal for Indian roads/conditions. Whatever it is, this car marks a great revolution in the automobile industry and the whole world is looking forward to it!

One more reason to be happy about India :)

22 comments:

Guru said...

This project from TATA is not about giving just a four wheeler, but they are looking to give a complete car at least something very close to a complete car.

And it is said that this car will satisfy all basic safety norms, though it won't be remembered long for its safety features list ever, it'll have the basic list. This small car will also have most of the regular features like Air conditioning, power steering( or atleast options that can be picked for a very moderate cost). But power windows, climate control, in-car entertainment systems will be optional. It is rumored that the car will cost 1.2-1.4 lakh INR on road, that still is a whole 2 lakh cheaper than cars from its competitors.

And i doubt the part about cheap plastics, i'm sure they will put in extra effort to present a overall nice looking exterior, cos' the whole world is watching this project and the looks will be under the scanner first. I think they can pull it off by mass producing body panels with less linkages, or maybe use alternative manufacturing processes ( like you said ) to keep the costs down, but i really doubt they will compromise on the quality front. My guess is that it'll be able to compete closely with rival cars in the segment quality wise, if not beat it.

Also the car is supposed to be capable of delivering a true 20+ kmpl inside city, now that is cos' of the fairly good engine tech, and also cos' of the tiny cubic capacity. And about the emission norms, meeting the Bharat Stage IV norms ( equal to EU IV ) will not be a problem, with such a small capacity cylinder, and a high efficiency engine design.

This car if successful will sell though the world. Senegal for example has already entered into an agreement with TATA for a tie up, and has even invested $19 million into this project ( dunno the details of the agreement though ).

TATA has managed to generate the publicity and hype universally, the question is whether they are able to live upto expectations. This is a make or break project for the company. Lets wait and watch.

Just my POV..

Arun Sundar said...

U'r POV is quite wide ;)

sundar said...

@ ur reply to guru :))..

on a serious note, i think a really cheap car would aggravate the already pressing environmental concerns even faster, plainly because of our population.

Guru said...

Yep, i have a rep for that actually.. Find it hard to shut my mouth if i start talking. And i'm really passionate about Automobiles, so that kind of added up.

I guess i need to refine my POV a little from now on, right ?

Cheers...

Arun Sundar said...

Guru,

That was the longest comment I ever received. And thats y i said u'r POV is quite wide. You can continue this way - if thats u'r style, continue it :)

Sundar,

I agree. I thought I'll discuss about the disadvantage of Tata's car in my post and even as a reply to guru's comments. But then somehow I refrained from doin it. Tata's car obviously poses a threat in the way that a lot more people would afford this car and with our growing population, our roads and other infrastructure should equally be growing, not only the cheap cars. We all know the traffic in Gemini flyover (Chennai) in the rush hours, just an example. And its gonna be multi-times worst in just a couple of years. And added to traffic, we have pollution, gas prices and a lot more.

ela said...

This was a great step ahead when all the third world countries are aspiring to catch up with the so called developed countries living standards...may be it can also help our social status conscious people....definitely it can help to ease out the fear one gets when looking at a whole family clinging onto a two wheeler in our indian traffic..... but definitely the concerns it raises when it comes to pollution level is quite alarming....
May be our governments should think and possibly put some effort into an well organised, accountable public transport system..... but i do agree that this announcement from TATA has catched up with the fancy of many.

Ankur said...

i am thinking about the day when all these fumy autorickshaw shall be replaced by these efficient engines.... and for the first time in several decades the landscape of the indian roads is poised to change

A wo(a)ndering mind said...

very informative! i did nto know about the car before i read your blog!! very nice!! :)

maxdavinci said...

In a comment above, you state the problems that would crop up and yet stand by this post?

I am not against the 1 Lakh car, but then would like to add that we are not yet ready for it. To be more specific, the roads are not yet ready to face this auto explosion as many predict.

Arun Sundar said...

Ela,
It has indeed caught up with the fancy of many(including me..lol). But about public transport, I'm sure Government is doing what it can. In chennai, they have deployed 100 new buses last week too and a few of them are Air-conditioned. A better initiative to lure those "Public transport phobic" people(like me)!

Ankur,
Autos are the veins of India(esp chennai). You simply can't get rid of them.

Manasi,
Adhukku dhaan konjam acedamic studies'a kammi pannittu News padikkanum'nu solradhu :)

Maxdavinci(what a name is this btw?),
My post was to say how happy I am about innovations rooting from India. I do stand by the post and just thought I'll mention the problems in the comment. And I agree that Indian roads are the worst in the world. But I dont think innovations/revolutionary thinking can wait for the roads to become better. And the fact that the roads might become an issue itself means that this car would be a success big time.

ela said...

yeap...i did also saw that during my last trip....added with the investments in the MRTS, hope the future would be less noisy, less smoky and with less frustrated people.....

And one more in my wish list...hope that TATA's don't only dole out 1 lakh car but also give a course to all the people how to drive courteously.....i really felt that our people (in Chennai) should be taught that when it is green for pedestrians, only two legged creatures are supposed to go across and when it is red, repeatedly pressed the horn is not going to change it to green.....and so on....

Arun Sundar said...

Agreed. Indian drivers are the worst you get to see. Our drivers would beat the NY yellow cabbies hands down! :)

"Honking" is a part of driving in India, as much as it is changing gears and accelerating. People can't simply refrain from honking, irrespective of the lights or time of the day or the traffic. And I do too, when I drive in Chennai. Its actually so much fun :)

(Though I'm not dumb enof to honk when the signal light is red. :))

Krishnakumar said...

U know it was unveiled todya, the 1 Lakh car and its called "Nano"

http://specials.rediff.com/money/2008/jan/10slide1.htm

ela said...

So Nano is out there...it is pretty cute one.....got to agree quite different from what i imagined....i am sure now all the other manufacturers have to run for their own survival.....

one way or the other it is going to change things a lot.....

Chakra said...

Well.. I am a bit late to comment. Think some speculations related to some of the features have been laid to rest with the unveiling of Nano today.

> India is a much better country these days in technological advancements, education and research.

- Yet there are ppl here who ask questions like 'Do ppl study in Universities in your country? Do you have enough schools / colleges in India?'. Ofen i will feel like throwing them into a plane towards India and let them see it for themselves.

ela said...

Chakra....i had much more funny and annoying questions from people here.....once i was asked 'why we are spending money on making movies while we are still a poor country and when we have poor people'.....i find it funny that people in the developed countries do really have a defined idea about being poor which they are not at all ready to refine.....

And ofcourse most of my collegaeus still think that i came all the way with a scholarship and spent nearly 5 years in research working like hell, just to go back home, get married, have babies and do nothing more than that....they very much believe that women in India are just sitting at homes and doing nothing else...

Arun Sundar said...

Krishnakumar [And is this KK by any chance?],
Thanks for the news :)

Chakra,
Yes, maybe we should drop such people at the IIMs, IITs and certain parts of metros. Let them learn about India themselves. (But we shouldn't take them to villages in India/some metros, where they might feel that their conception about India is partially right.)
:(

Ela,
Like what u said, one other question that stumps me is "why do Indian cinema folks start singing dancing for anything and everything? They sing when they are happy, sing when they are sad, sing when they travel, sing when they are hungry and what not?" I try to justify by saying that we don't have pop-music albums like they do here at US and we rely on movie-music to a greater extent. I know I sound lame! I smile and move on :)

ela said...

Arun, i think music is/had been an integral part of our culture....i am sure u know about the village folk songs....they are for every occassion of life....with more and more urbanisation and decline of patronage for the original iyal, isai, nadaka kalai, i think film music is the sole form of music which does not discriminate people and is easily reachable....that nowadays we do have lot of crap also there is another matter...

I for myself still could not understand some of the songs from the film Sivaji...believe me, my tamil and english is not that bad.....

One question that my friends have when we watch our movies together which i also feel funny and make jokes is `why when two people are in love , they start dancing with some 10, 20 people around them instead of doing something sensible?´. I just always try to get away by saying that we Indians are highly socialising people!!!

Arun Sundar said...

"Indians are highly socialising people"

Having 20 extras dancing around the hero and the heroine in the scorching sun isn't socialising. It is plain Ragging. lol!

Guru said...

@Arun: In our country movies are made for the masses, and what draws the crowds in is not the slick, meaningful, logical action story, but the songs,dance or masala(i'm not talking about skin show here).

So when they pay 15 bucks for a ticket they look for entertainment worth 15 bucks, now even if you give them a perfect movie(by your standards) they won't be happy, cos' after a day's work when someone heads to a movie theater the people don't look for logic or story, they just need to be transported to this world away from everything else, the hero on screen gets to do things they can only dream of.

So, the indian movies are made for them, cos' the A centers with all the multiplexes and high ticket prices might seem to give good returns, but who do you think will return back to the movie hall the next day for a repeat show ? certainly not the multiplex crowd ..

phew !!.. Was this excessive ??

Arun Sundar said...

Guru,

I'm not against movies with "out-of-sequence" song sequences and "irrelevant" dance sequences. I'm ok with such movies. And lets say such movies concentrate on B or C centers, where people go for "repeat" view of the same movie(coz they just need to be transported to thhe movie world away from everything else). But there need to be made some movies, which make sense too.

And we digressed into this topic, coz I really find it a little weird, when non-Indians ask us(lot of my clients do) about such songs and dances that we have in Indian movies. Though I know it is very much a part of our definition of "entertainment", the same defintion is a little different for people here. I give them some answer, but I can't understand why heroes and heroine start dancing when they fall in love. And that too in the wonderland.

Krishnakumar said...

Hi Arun

This is KK indeed