Author: Gordon Platt
Company To Watch: Tata Motors/india

Mumbai-based Tata Motors, which is trying to buy Ford Motor’s premier Jaguar and Land Rover brands, unveiled the world’s cheapest car, the $2,500 Nano, at the Auto Expo in New Delhi in January. Dubbed the “people’s car,” the four-passenger Nano is high on efficiency and low on emissions. Its carbon footprint may be small, but its low price tag is expected to attract thousands of new buyers to India’s automobile market.

“I observed families riding on two-wheelers: the father driving the scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife seated behind him holding a little baby,” said Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Group and Tata Motors, speaking at the unveiling ceremony. “It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family.”

Germany-based automotive research firm CSM Worldwide predicts that the Nano will drive Tata Motors to the lead position as India’s biggest light-vehicle manufacturer by 2013. Tata sees Brazil as an attractive export market for the car. Meanwhile, those worried that Tata’s attempt to buy Jaguar might damage that brand may be reassured to hear that German sports car maker Porsche is gearing up to take a majority stake in the original people’s car, VW, this year.

Gordon Platt