Blog: Dave LeggettLow-cost cars for EMs

Dave Leggett | 22 June 2007

How far can you go with a low-cost car? The engineering approaches are intriguing. Do you take something off the shelf and ‘decontent’ it as far as possible or do you start off with a blank sheet of paper and engineer it from the ground up? There are, of course, plenty of places in between in terms of how the various vehicle sub-systems are arrived at.

But one of the most radical low-cost cars being planned is the Tata 1-lakh (100,000 rupees – around EUR1,830) car for India. That’s more a ‘from the ground up’ kind of approach. How can Tata make the car so cheaply? Indeed, is it really a motor car (or quadricycle of some sort)? We’ll see.

Nissan is also talking about developing a low-cost car for India too.

Wouldn’t the two-wheeler person coveting four-wheels consider how far the budget will stretch in the used car market before looking at a new car? Deepesh Rathore in New Delhi just told me that a two-year old Maruti 800 is very near the 1-lakh mark.

As the big emerging markets like China and India expand and the parcs grow, I would guess that the used car market will develop further, with increasing numbers of first time car owners seeking to offload and upgrade. Could be a big opportunity there I would think.

And that might be why Tata has to make the 1-lakh car a real car rather than anything flimsy that could be described as a quadricycle or three-wheeler with an extra wheel.

Maruti 800 that is a bit rough and worn at the edges or a Tata golf cart?

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