The Tata Nano, marketed in its debut a few years ago as the world’s cheapest car, could also become in 2015 the cheapest mass-produced car available in the United States.
Tata hasn’t announced a price for the vehicle nor specific details of dealerships or the exact configuration of the second generation of the Nano that will sold in the United States.
But the price will be less than $10,000, according to Ratan Nano, the manufacturer’s chairman.
“The Smart and the Fiat 500 have high sticker prices, and people buy them because they are small cars,” Tata told Automotive News. “But everyone knows you put a lot of money into it. We hope that the sub-$10,000 car has appeal.”
The Nissan Versa, primarily made in Mexico, is currently the cheapest mass-produced car for sale in the United States. It has a starting price of $12,770.
Earlier this year, the electric Kandi Coco, available only in Oklahoma, debuted with a price of $865 after a series of federal and state incentives and restrictions. The Kandi Coco is a Low Speed Vehicle (or LSV). It’s capped by law to a top speed of 25 miles per hour and restricted to roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less.
The Nano launched in 2009, but it has not succeeded as hoped. As of April 2013, just 175,000 Nanos had been sold in India, which has a population of 1.2 billion. When the Nano debuted, it cost the equivalent of about $2,000. It now costs about $3,000.
The Nano is manufactured with several oddities to help keep it cheap.
The trunk is only accessible from inside the car. There’s one windscreen wiper instead of the usual pair. There’s no power steering. The wheel have only three lug nuts. There’s one one side mirror. A radio or CD player is optional. There a no airbags. The 624cc rear engine has only two cylinders, and there’s no air conditioning in the base model.