Posted Oct 15th 2012 3:45PM
Tata's much ballyhooed Nano isn't exactly selling as expected in its home market of India, especially after the well-publicized fires engulfing the several examples of the world's cheapest car. Despite that, the head of Tata Group, Ratan Tata, says his company remains intent on bringing an updated sub-$10,000 Nano to North America, and he intends to do so in three years.
While the Indian market gets a bare-bones Nano powered by a two-cylinder, 37-horsepower engine, Tata unsurprisingly says the North American version will have a larger engine, power steering and traction control.
"The Smart and the Fiat 500 have high sticker prices, and people buy them because they are small cars," Tata tells Automotive News. "But everyone knows you put a lot of money into it. We hope that the sub-$10,000 car has appeal."
With the US economy still slowly recovering, a car for under $10k could have plenty of appeal. But the Indian automaker has several obstacles to overcome first, not the least of which is building a dealer network for the Nano. Tata owns Jaguar and Land Rover, but that group's CEO, Andy Goss, says there has been no discussion about using those dealers to distribute the Nano.
Perhaps the updated US-bound Nano will be more like the Nano Megapixel concept (pictured above) we saw at the Geneva Motor Show back in March. That car had a longer, 138-inch wheelbase and a larger 325cc engine supplemented by two electric motors. It's safe to assume that if Tata wants to keep costs down so that it can offer the car below $10,000, the next Nano won't get a hybrid powertrain like the Megapixel, but perhaps it will pick up some of the car's size and styling cues.