The World’s Cheapest Car Is Dead: Tata Reportedly Pulls The Plug On Nano

Tata Motors has reportedly killed the Nano, which made headlines a decade ago as the world’s cheapest new car.

The Nano’s demise has been confirmed apparently by its production numbers, the India Economic Times reports. Tata Motors produced just one example in June, down from the 275 made in the same month last year.

The Indian car maker said that in its present form, the Nano cannot continue beyond 2019. Tata marketed the Nano as the “people’s car” back in 2008 but failed to meet sales expectations, despite the Indian market being value-focused.

The Nano’s case has since become a lesson for any manufacturer that wants to succeed in India; it showed that cutting costs to the bone for a catchy title is pretty much worthless if the product itself is underwhelming and with a tendency to catch fire.

The world’s cheapest new car failed at a time when the rest of the Indian market grew in every segment. Passenger cars for example saw an increase of 38 percent in June, while commercial vehicles saw a 42-percent increase.

Power came from a tiny 0.6-liter two-cylinder petrol engine that made 37hp and 38lb-ft of torque. Later versions of the Tata Nano offered better safety thanks to improvements to its chassis as well as introduced the option of an automated manual transmission.

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  • haudit

    I can’t help but think the Nano could have been a bigger success in Europe than it ever was in India, despite the enormous disparity in incomes between the two regions. Indian buyers don’t want something marked out as ‘the world’s cheapest car’, and would prefer to spend their money on a larger used car, but Europeans have no qualms about queueing up to buy Dacias, and would probably have accepted a suitably revised Nano as a basic, low-cost urban runaround.

    • Loquacious Borborygmus

      Nah, a piece of shit rolled in glitter is still a piece of shit.
      Anyway, how much money would have been needed to “revise” it to make it crash-worthy ?

    • ace_9

      No sane person would buy this. Used car market is very good and there is absolutely no reason to buy cheap looking and feeling, impractical, small, noisy, uncomfortable, unsafe, low powered car with bad handling over let’s say 5 year old well maintained standard small car like fiesta, fabia, ibiza yaris or whatever. And I think you might have a wrong perception of Dacia brand. Dacia doesn’t make especially good cars, but they are practical, big enough for a small family and decently comfortable, handling and engines are ok, new models do look quite good, they have modern equipment and safety is also good, service costs are also fine and all that for a price of a new not so well equipped small car. Comparison to Tata Nano is completely invalid.

  • Indians were smart enough to avoid a death trap.

    • mihsf

      Which was much more safer than putting 6 people on a motorcycle

      • ace_9

        Of course, but unfortunately, for people traveling that way, the Nano is obviously still too expensive. And even if they would have the money, they would probably be reasonable enough to avoid Tata Nano anyway.

      • Truth in advertising…at least you know a motorcycle is a death trap, you wouldn’t expect that from a car which is better shielded.

      • Dude

        I like the rail car surfers.

  • Ilbirs

    This is a case of a great idea tarnished by a bad execution.

  • submonte

    I completely disagree with most of the comments. I think this was a great transportation idea, which was botched by some bad decisions. I personally would immediately buy one, indeed because it was small, cheap and almost disposable. Think of it as scooter with a roof. It would make a great fourth car. If Tata was able to sell it in Europe it would probably sell better than in India. They should’ve just made in run on electricity…

    • ace_9

      It seems that you don’t really know much about Tata Nano. Or you would immediately buy a car that rolls over if you do a sharp turn in 30 km/h?! Additionally, the frontal collision in 60 km/h doesn’t mean only some injuries, it will result in death! There is no safety, nor any other equipment. Why is it “a great transportation idea”? The ONLY good point is the low price. But you can get for example a wood board with wheels and engine from lawn mower for much less money. Would it then be even greater transportation idea than Nano?

      • submonte

        As I said, it was a botched idea. But the idea was good. What do you have against “cheap”? I don’t need to roll about in something big, heavy and expensive all the time. This would be a perfect city car, if executed right. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. That’s all.

        • ace_9

          Cheap is good, but Tata was too cheap. If it would be executed right, then it would cost as much as any small city car. It’s not like the other manufacturers are earning huge money from small city cars. Standard cheap small car simply cannot cost much less than 7000 €. Tata Nano costs around 2000 €, which just shows that a scary amount of cost reduction has to be applied to practically everything on that car. Combine that with materials, build quality, workers experience, etc. compared to european, korean and japanese manufacturers (there are not that many small cheap american cars) and it is clear why the car is not even worth the 2000 €. Even 1000 € for such a crapbox is too much. That is why it does not sell.

    • Dude

      So what are the first 3 cars you’d get before your 4th, your Tata?

      • submonte

        At the moment I have a Ford Transit van, a Ford S-Max and a Fiat Panda.

  • ace_9

    Maybe you’re right. But I still think that to make a car to pass the NCAP, emission restrictions, be at least somewhat reliable in all weather conditions and to make at least some small profit, then it would have to cost at least around 5000 € and it would still be just a very basic car. You are right that most of the manufacturers are not focusing on the price really hard, but I think they have a reason. There is very little profit in making such a car and it might hurt the brand name.

    • submonte

      Well, let’s hope that someone tries again and nails it right next time:)

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