Photo via N-O-M-A-D @ flickr.
At TreeHugger, we devoted a lot of posts to the coming of the Tata Nano "The People's Car" for the following reasons: its low price and its small, efficient form boasting around 50 mpg are revolutionary. But who will benefit from the fact that the company already has 203,000 partially-paid orders for the car? Well, the company benefits, or course - though it can only produce 50,000 cars by year's end - and its shareholders. And people that needed one and formerly couldn't afford a car and now can buy a Nano will likely benefit. But the rest of us...no. Nano is clearly a case of improving some individuals' lives with a dubious benefit to society as a whole.
Photo by Sumanth Garakarajula @ flickr.
Tata teaches tough lessons to Detroit
Clearly, Tata understood its market - it was aiming at Indian families that currently do not own a car but probably have a two-wheeler of some sort - and use it to get around. To move up to a Nano, with its four seats and 50 mpg, is a great improvement, and the price, of around $2,300 can't be beat. No wonder 230,000 people have signed up to own one.
Two Billion Cars, and Counting
Socially, however, the world doesn't benefit by Nano's popularity, neither the congested streets of the Indian cities Nano is aimed at, nor the global car park. Gas-driven cars continue to emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants. We now have around 800 million of these little pollution factories globally, but it is cars like the Nano that could boost that number to 2 billion by 2030. Analyst Phil Gott at Global Insight says the reason is simply economic: as people's income grows to around $5,000 annually, the economic demand for cars grows. The Tata Nano just makes it that much easier to satisfy that demand.
Greater Personal Mobility Has its Downsides
Of course, all of us that already have owned cars can't tell anyone else they shouldn't own one. That's simple fact. However, as most cities and some citizens have begun to discover, a personal mobility machine loses its shine if you do little more than sit in traffic with it (and pay congestion fees in some places) day in and day out. Nano's $2,300 price tag certainly doesn't cover the possible costs to the environment a surge in car ownership will entail.
From car owning to car sharing
As the Christian Science Monitor put it, the Nano "taps into Indians aspirations," and that itself is a powerful selling point. Eventually, however, Indian and Chinese car owners will likely have to learn the lesson we're all learning, that city mobility, at least, would be better served by bike sharing, car sharing, and fabulous public transport than millions more cars on the streets. Via: Autobloggreen
Read more about Tata Nano at TreeHugger
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