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The World's Cheapest Car Set To Launch 418

Posted by Zonk
from the be-nice-to-have-a-toolin-mobile dept.
theodp writes "Ready for one-automobile-per-child (OAPC)? India's giant Tata Group is on the verge of launching the world's cheapest car. The People's Car, slated to be unveiled January 10th at a New Delhi auto show, will carry a sticker price of 100,000 rupees ($2,500), which some analysts say could revolutionize automobile costs worldwide. The Tata is a pet project of Cornell-trained architect Ratan Tata, who helped design it. The vehicle is aimed at improving driving safety by getting India's masses off their motorbikes and into cars."
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The World's Cheapest Car Set To Launch

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  • Tatas (Score:5, Funny)

    by sgtron (35704) on Monday December 31, 2007 @12:49AM (#21862724)
    Heh.. you said "tatas".

    God, I would love to have a tata to ride around in.. Of course people might say I looked like a boob inside that thing, but I wouldn't care.
  • by n2rjt (88804) on Monday December 31, 2007 @12:50AM (#21862740) Journal
    This sounds like a great thing, and I wonder if any imitation of it will ever see the shores of the U.S. Probably not any chance of that. I tried to find some specs, but the site is already slashdotted.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by superash (1045796)
      I tried to find some specs, but the site is already slashdotted.

      The specs are not out yet. It will be revealed at the auto show.
    • by omeomi (675045) on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:02AM (#21862814) Homepage
      I doubt it will ever arrive in the U.S., at least not at that price.

      The vehicle is aimed at improving driving safety by getting India's masses off their motorbikes and into cars."

      Hmm...the world's second most populous nation switching from motorcycles to cars. Yes, that should do wonders for gas prices / global warming.
      • Think about it though. More demand for oil = higher gas prices = more effort in the US to get off of oil (I would hope). With Stanford's nanotube breakthrough a couple of days ago with regards to Lithium Ion batteries, 2000 mile range electric cars are well within our grasp.

        http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/wireless/?p=169 [com.com]

        Stanford University assistant professor Yi Cui and his research team are about to revolutionize lithium ion battery technology. Cui was able to overcome an existing design limitation and construct a battery capable of producing ten times more electricity than an equivalent sized lithium ion battery using current technology. Just imagine being able to use a battery-powered notebook for 20 hours instead of the 2-3 hours of service that existing lithium ion batteries provide now.

        If you read up on it more, they're using silicon nanotubes to store the lithium instead of the carbon anode.

        • by sethstorm (512897) *

          More demand for oil = higher gas prices = more effort in the US to get off of oil (I would hope)
          No, it's more of getting rid of the speculators and/or their tendency to get jittery, possibly followed by war to control the region.
      • by andy1307 (656570) on Monday December 31, 2007 @09:35AM (#21865326)
        If every motorcycle/two-wheeler in a city like Bombay was replaced by this car, traffic would grind to a complete halt. So, in that respect, this car would make the roads safer. You just wouldn't be able to get anywhere.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by haeger (85819)
        Hmm...the world's second most populous nation switching from motorcycles to cars. Yes, that should do wonders for gas prices / global warming.

        I hope you're some environmentally friendly eco-hippie living on $1 a day in some hut in africa or elsewhere because if you're an american or from some other developped country you should be ashamed of yourself. How dare you suggest that while we have all the luxuries that we want the people in india can't even even get a small car. When the US/EU motorpark use less t
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by localman (111171)
        And suddenly the hypocrisy of our lifestyle becomes clear...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by creimer (824291)
      Does it pass California smog certification? If it doesn't, it better run Linux. :P
    • by Fireshadow (632041) <matthewNO@SPAMfireshadow.net> on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:21AM (#21863240) Journal
      As for the specs: As for seeing it in the U.S., two things here: In India required safety standards do not currently include full-body crash testing, airbags or antilock braking systems (1). The cars would have to be upgraded to be U.S. street legal. Which brings us to this point: "Roland Berger [consulting group] estimates it would cost as much as $4,000 on top of Tata's $2,500 to engineer the car to meet U.S. safety and emissions regulations, transport it, pay tariffs, market it, pay lawyers and offer warranties. The same would hold true to meet European or Japanese standards. Meanwhile, the Tata would have to compete, too, with a used-car market that turns over 43 million cars a year. A quick Web search shows that $6,500 could buy a 1998 Cadillac Seville with a V-8 engine and a leather interior, or a 2002 Dodge Caravan that seats seven." References: 1 NY Times [nytimes.com] 2 Rediff [rediff.com] 3 Forbes [forbes.com] 4 Business Week [businessweek.com]
      • by Gordonjcp (186804)
        Yeah, but then your Dodge Caravan is going to use ten times as much fuel. What are you going to do when petrol hits $2 per litre, which is about what it costs in the UK and Europe?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Seraphim_72 (622457)
        33 Hit Points? Hell my 4th level Honda Civic has almost 90 and ... oh, Horse Power ... never mind
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here I thought KIAs were the cheapest form of crap I've ever seen in the automobile world.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As a Kia owner (Sorento) I can tell you to STFU.

      Low cost can equal value.

      I have no problems with our vehicle and it handles a family of 5 quite well. (+dog)
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As a Kia owner (Sorento) I can tell you to STFU.
        Yes, but you can only do it at a max of 25 MPH with bits falling off
  • by cashman73 (855518) on Monday December 31, 2007 @12:53AM (#21862760) Journal
    The Germans came out with this people's car [westminstercollege.edu] concept back in the 1930s,... Heck, that's pretty much a direct translation of the word, "Volkswagon [volkswagon.com]!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 31, 2007 @12:54AM (#21862768)
    My wallet only holds 500, I wonder if Golden Skulltulas are legal tender?
    Maybe five of us could cut grass together and car pool.
  • This sounds like a really nice idea for the people, but what about the environment when literally everybody affords a car?
    • by Entropius (188861)
      What kind of mileage do these things get? If it's >40, which I'm sure it will be (and maybe even >50), if a significant number of Americans buy them instead of the garbage that's on our roads now, it could offset some of the additional pollution from India.

      Also, an improved standard of living is better for pollution control. If enough capital flows into India to make the up-front cost of nuclear plants affordable, for instance, the coal plants that are not built will offset the cars that are.
    • by really? (199452)
      if it replaces a couple smoky two-stoke bikes and has decent gas mileage, it could actually be better for the environment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dgr73 (1055610)

      This sounds like a really nice idea for the people, but what about the environment when literally everybody affords a car?

      Sheesh.. I feel rage building again (lucky I don't turn green and grow in size when that happens)... someone starts talking about the 3rd world masses finally being able to afford a car and someone from an industrialized world pulls the "what about the environment" card out of their ass.

      If you're so worried about the environment, perhaps you should give up your car then and tell your friends to do the same. I mean, why should the people in India not get a car? If anything, it's their turn to have a car

  • The negative (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DevilJeff (243585) on Monday December 31, 2007 @12:58AM (#21862782)
    I can't help but think of the negative effect this will have. Getting people off of their bikes (motor or otherwise) can't be good for fuel consumption, polution during and after the life of the vehicle, and roadway congestion to name a few.
    • by drgonzo59 (747139)
      and roadway congestion to name a few.


      I agree with the other points but not about roadway congestion. The transportation network throughput will be higher if people drive in a car 60mph as opposed to have 3 times as many people drive bikes but moving at only 15mph. Yes, you'll have a lot more people on the road at the same time but they'll be moving a lot slower. I guess the best is to have motor bikes and very narrow lanes. That will result in a very high death count though...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by RealGrouchy (943109)
      It's surprising how pervasive is the idea that someone is automatically "safer" as soon as you put a metal box around them.

      - RG>
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)
        It's true. I've had a fairly serious crash in a Ford Sierra. Car was totally destroyed but I barely felt a thing. If I'd been riding a motor bike I'd probably be dead or at least seriously injured. That bent metal absorbed a lot of kinetic energy that would otherwise have been used to mangle me.

        Very impressive really. I'd read about crumple zones and so on, but actually experiencing them first hand convinced me to never drive a small car again.
      • Re:The negative (Score:5, Informative)

        by Gordonjcp (186804) on Monday December 31, 2007 @03:09AM (#21863494) Homepage
        The problem is, and indeed TFA points this one out, it's not one guy on a motorbike. Have you seen how they use their motorbikes in India? Typically they're three or four up (rider, pillion and a child or two sitting on the tank) with luggage strapped on anywhere it can go. There's a reason why that sort of thing is illegal over here ("here" being pretty much anywhere west of the Asian subcontinent).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by oldhack (1037484)
      shashdotted so can't RTFA, but if this replaces good chunk of the two-cycle bangers used in motor rickshaws with a more modern 4-cycle engines, it should reduce pollution. Sounds like the car is small enough to be comparable to the rickshaws (is it?), in which case congestion impact shouldn't be too big while buying added safety. Wonder how customizable the horn may be. ;-) Hope it works out - we don't all need armor-plated humbys.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by upside (574799)
      Fuel consumption - true, pollution - debatable. Most bikes don't have catalytic converters so they produce proportionally more pollutants.

      A swiss study [sciencedaily.com] concluded 'motorcycles collectively emit 16 times more hydrocarbons, three times more carbon monoxide and a "disproportionately high" amount of other air pollutants compared to passenger cars' though it has also been disputed. [acembike.org]
  • Why are people entitled to have every luxury good at an such a low cost that it jeopardizes human and environmental health and safety? I do not think a Wal Mart world is something to aspire to. Too bad the free market basically only takes into account demand and cost.
    • by bidule (173941)
      Pot, kettle. Or you wouldn't be on /..

      Our standard of living has to go down quite a lot before we can talk. Until we develop some low-cost, low-footprint technologies and try to persuade them to use our ecologically friendly solution, we can't say a word.

      Holier-than-thou is a little hypocritical here.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:28AM (#21862962)
      Why should the rich have any greater right to jeopardize human and environmental health and safety? Especially when comparing the wealth of people in different parts of the world; you can't say that the comparative net worth of a particular American vs. a particular Indian have anything to do with individual merit.

      This is what I keep wondering about the US insistence that we do nothing about the environment until China takes action first - even though our per capita CO2 emissions are still 400% of theirs! We might be willing to freeze our emissions at current levels if they freeze theirs at what are (to us) levels from the 1930's? Please.

      Yes, I do understand. As an American I find the prospect of equal access to natural resources for everybody on earth very frightening, because I am accustomed to our position of privilege. But I won't try to rationalize that selfish and irrational sentiment.

      • by Soko (17987) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:34AM (#21863320) Homepage
        Why should the rich have any greater right to jeopardize human and environmental health and safety? Especially when comparing the wealth of people in different parts of the world; you can't say that the comparative net worth of a particular American vs. a particular Indian have anything to do with individual merit.

        From what I've observed, the USA equates rich and privilege - if you're rich, you fscking well earned it and deserve the right to plunder more. If that $PERSON_FROM_OTHER_COUNTRY were worth anything, they'd have enough money/influence/power to compete, nevermind the huge disparity in resources.

        Yes, I do understand. As an American I find the prospect of equal access to natural resources for everybody on earth very frightening, because I am accustomed to our position of privilege. But I won't try to rationalize that selfish and irrational sentiment.

        As a Canadian, (where we produce more CO2 per capita than the US - no lily-green condescension here) I fear that situation more. We're in no position to defend ourselves if we become "hostile to American interests", especially if those interests are Big Oil, since we have what they want [wikipedia.org] in spades. Granted, it seems that a less hostile approach *cough*Stephen Harper*COUGH* is being taken, but we are a different lot up here - eventually, we _will_ have a conflict where the US wants our water or oil or trees or whatever, and will take it in whatever means they determine necessary against our will or better judgement. Just so you know - I don't think it will be the majority of Americans who will want to do that, just the moneyed few who will lose control unless they do so, and so will sell it to the American public as "The Right Thing".

        In summation - we live in a global plutocracy, where being a USasian or Canoodian or Belizian matters not a whit, only how much money you have and what you can do to further the cause of the privileged few. The trick is to turn (a) green technology(ies) into something they need to hold on to power - then it'll be invested in and promoted like nothing else. /takes off tinfoil hat
        • by Trinn (523103)
          I just wanted to add, and I know this is probably going to get thought of as flamebait (though I really am not intending it as such), but this is (minus perhaps slight hyperbole, though I'm not sure, and of course the specific topic-oriented language) a very good definition of libertarian thought, or at least the aftermath of it. This is *also* why, though I respect his candor, ron paul is not getting anything from me. To delve political, Kucinich on the other hand, tends to come down on the right side of
      • by Corbets (169101) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:40AM (#21863340) Homepage
        So basically, you accuse America of acting selfishly to protect our position of "privilege". Do you have any idea, though, how arrogant it sounds to compare a country of more than a billion people to us in the 1930s? Get over it!

        There's a big difference between ignorantly pushing technology forward when you don't know the consequences as opposed to pushing forward when you're well aware of what will happen. The BRIC nations can have a much more detrimental effect on the environment than America has ever had. It may not be fair, but guess what - that's life. It ain't fair. Deal.
    • Why are people entitled to have every luxury good at an such a low cost that it jeopardizes human and environmental health and safety

      I think it's interesting for people to make comments like these when a third world nation tries to progress itself, when they're often posting from an iPhone while sipping their Starbucks Latte and then hopping into their Lexus.
      • Hey! I work at a Starbucks and I dont see the kind of person you talk about.

        I serve people who work in places from the receptionist counter at the local recycling plant, all the way to doctors and lawyers. Starbucks isnt a "richie" joint, but rather just a damn good drink. Thats shown by our wide clientèle.

        Wanna see a mold-breaker? I work for Starbucks, play in the local community band, part time tinkerer, beer/wine/mead maker, amateur radio operator, studying for bs in chemistry/minor: math and anthro
      • You ever tried to be green in the US? It's tough. Suburban sprawl and extreme rent for inner city locations make it difficult to live without a car. So you try to get a friendly econobox car, and find there aren't any available in this market thanks largely to government policies put through by an industry who fully realizes that a 10% margin of profit on a big expensive SUV is a lot more money than the same margin on a cheap box, and who therefore do all in their marketing power to push the public towar

    • by timmarhy (659436)
      Then i demand you sell your car and computer right now, or shut the hell up.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday December 31, 2007 @12:58AM (#21862792)
    I thought the Chinese would beat India on this important issue. One thing I know is that they (the Chinese), are not very far behind, and they will beat the Indians. Already, they own a bigger chunk of our electronics market as compared to the Indians.
    • This is targeted for Indian market, not US or Chinese market. It probably has less power than Geo Metro so it is not going to work well at US highway speeds (acceleration wise).
    • I thought the Chinese would beat India on this important issue.

      Do you really think having a car is an important issue in a country that still has extreme poverty? The mobility of a car is nice, but it's usually a money-sink for the owner... and remember, despite the PR, this isn't about helping people, it's about Tata reaching a larger market and selling more cars. Meanwhile, the Chinese have bigger fish to fry than putting people into cars, and they realize their cities are jammed with the things already.

      • by timmarhy (659436) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:32AM (#21863308)
        enterprise like this is the ONLY thing that break the poverty cycle. people buy cars, which need to be built and serviced. this offers a million oppertunities for someone in poverty to get a job and raise their living standards.

        until you people understand this, you will continue to doom the 3rd world with your kindness.

  • But after 'dealer delivery cost' and 'optional features' the price will be more like 15K, no doubt.
  • Is it safe? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:02AM (#21862818) Homepage
    Considering how poorly [youtube.com] the not-even-as-low-cost Chinese cars perform [youtube.com] in crash-tests [youtube.com], you've got to wonder how on earth something that cheap could possibly be safe at anything faster than walking speed.

    For now, I'll hold on to my Peel P50 [youtube.com].
  • by Franklin Brauner (1034220) on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:04AM (#21862832)
    ...is that all of those motorbikes are still going to be on the road, and now there's going to be a bunch of cheap cars as well. I think it likely that this will increase accidents and congestion, not to mention the increase in pollution (why wasn't that a factor in the vehicle's design?!).
    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:08AM (#21863164)

      why wasn't that a factor in the vehicle's design?!
      Because that would add about $500 more to the price of the vehicle (minimum) and they were optimizing the vehicle for cost not for fuel economy, safety, or low emissions. It would still be an improvement however over the equally unsafe and much dirtier two-stroke 3 wheelers and motorcycle taxis with sidecars that are still driving around in India today.
  • Get the maniacs off their scooters and into something bigger and heavier, so they can do some real damage.
    • Hey as an IT worker Im all for this , less competition for my job :)
    • Well, statistically anyway, the rate of survival from crashes should increase due to being in an enclosed space instead of in the open. Property damages, however, will likely increase as well.
  • by VorpalEdge (967279) on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:10AM (#21862870)
    From the summary (not even the article!):

    The People's Car, slated to be unveiled January 10th at a New Delhi auto show, will carry a...

    It's kind of hard for pictures to be available when it hasn't even been unveiled yet. Of course, I'm not even sure why an announcement of an announcement is news, but what can you do?
  • ...It was called a Yugo [wikipedia.org] The Yugoslav government claimed that it would be so cheap that it would drive all the evil capitalist carmakers out of business... Yeaaaaahhh..... That kindof didn't happen... Consumer Reports claimed that it, "barely qualified as a car." It had a 1.1 liter engine, barely enough to get it moving on a windy day... speaking of windy day, a Yugo was literally blown off the Mackinac bridge by high gales... Yeah, the whole Yugo thing didn't work out so well... I doubt this project wi
  • by demachina (71715) on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:22AM (#21862920)
    With $100 barrel oil and global warming, that's just what the world needs is to get a couple billion more people sitting in traffic jams burning up the dwindling supply of fossil fuels and polluting the air.
    • The motorbikes they're on now, while using less gas, are likely far worse when it comes to air pollution than this car would be. Especially when you start to factor in carpooling.
      • The motorbikes they're on now, while using less gas, are likely far worse when it comes to air pollution than this car would be.

        But electric bikes are just becoming practical.

        • Yup, just getting about practical, but still expensive, and still using electricity generated mostly by coal-fired power plants.

          Petrol is still the best option.
    • Not even remotely comparable to the waste and pollution of an SUV, though.

      If you're serious about your comment, then you should be advocating that Americans generally replace their existing gas guzzlers with something more economical, then those Indians could buy their own cars and we'd still be environmentally better off around the world.

      • Not all of us drive SUVs, you know.

        Yes, there's a problem. Generalizing it to all "Americans" isn't going to solve it.

        If gas prices in the US were equal to what they are in Britain (~$9/gal) I'm sure you'd see just as many tiny hatchbacks on the road. (Of course, that doesn't solve the current obsession with status symbols, but I digress....)

        A high gas tax is probably a bad idea, since it will most greatly affect the working classes. Heavily taxing large non-commercial vehicles, and strictly tightening
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:25AM (#21862942)
    Having just got back from a 2 week business trip in India, where I got to ride around in Bangalore in traffic (in a Tata car no less), ... what the hell are these people thinking?

    If you want to fix India traffic issues the solution is not to add MORE CARS. Infact, I would argue one should add more motorcycles to the traffic. The motorcycles are the only vehicles that get around easily in Indian traffic while the rest of the road is jammed up with giant trucks manufacturered by TATA ... yeah no conflict of interest here. Most of the guys I work with rode bikes to work, and stated their commutes would be about 33% longer if they took a car.

    Real ideas for fixing Indian traffic issues and fatailities:

    Purge the Indian traffic police and start over. From what I saw these guys are incredibly ineffective. They stand around and wave during rush hour. They have no power to change the flow of traffic or enforce laws due to the sheer mass and force of violations occuring. You don't get 1 guy running a red light in india, you get the whole damn contents of the Intersection.

    Build a new agency from the ground up focused around safety and enforcement of laws, and start ENFORCING the traffic laws.

    Increase traffic fines - now my judgement here may be skewed because the standard of living is lower in India and as a result these fines may be more to your average Indian, but check this out:

    http://www.bcp.gov.in/english/trafficpolice/trafficdos/spotfines.htm [bcp.gov.in]

    It's a list of "spot fines". Note that 40 rupees is about $1 USD.

    Speeding? $7.50
    Driving without a license? $7.50.
    Running a red light? $2.50

    Yeah - does anyone else wonder why these offenses continue to happen?

    Study traffic calming techniques used in some european countries recently. The problem I see with the roads in India is they're built much like US roads - wide, big, with high curbs, and the sheer design of them encourages speeding. Parking problems in the city has made parking on lots of main roads illegal.

    Get rid of the high curbs everywhere, put parked cars back onto the streets to provide a visual and mental barrier for pedestrian traffic, and make the roads "feel" dangerous (which really, if you dont think Indian traffic is dangerous already you dont have a pulse but whatetver...)

    Get the giant ass Tata trucks off the roads. I don't know what the hell these Tata trucks do driving around all the time, but theyre huge flatbeds, bigger then everything else on the road, and look dangerous as hell.

    Mass transit - finish the projects on time and ahead of schedule. Yeah, that means YOU Bangalore officials sitting on your asses getting kickbacks from the Metro project. Fix the shit.

    Crosswalks/pedestrian bridges - Try painting some lines on the road once and a while .... and build some more pedestrian bridges so the populace doesn't have to play human frogger all day long.

    Get the wildlife off the roads - Now seriously, I respect the traditional farmers still left in the country and in the cities, but cows do NOT belong on roads, ok?!
    • The poster clearly has NO idea of what he is talking about. Here are some clarifications

      If you want to fix India traffic issues the solution is not to add MORE CARS. Infact, I would argue one should add more motorcycles to the traffic. The motorcycles are the only vehicles that get around easily in Indian traffic while the rest of the road is jammed up with giant trucks manufacturered by TATA ... yeah no conflict of interest here. Most of the guys I work with rode bikes to work, and stated their commutes wo

  • by titzandkunt (623280) * on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:41AM (#21863026)

    It's incredible how many people start wading into all kinds of issues with the intent of improving safety without the first notion of what risk really is and how we humans evaluate and cope with it.

    Anybody who's work may impact public safety should be forced at gunpoint to at least read Risk [amazon.co.uk] by John Adams. It has much to say about the effects of public safety initiatives and their unintended consequences.

    For instance, after the introduction of compulsory seatbelt legislation in the UK, the number of motorists who were killed or seriously injured decreased somewhat. Unfortunately more cyclists and pedestrians were killed or seriousy injured in collisions with motor vehicles, such that the overall number of road deaths increased. Adams attributes the increase to drivers' assessment of their own level of risk being reduced, hence they tended to drive more quickly and in a more dangerous fashion, until their personal risk threshold was restored.

    "...The vehicle is aimed at improving driving safety by getting India's masses off their motorbikes and into cars..."

    In light of what I said previously, look out for a rise in the overall number of people KSI on India's roads...

    T&K.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by fatmal (920123)

      such that the overall number of road deaths increased

      Humans need some level of risk. My fear is that by wrapping our children in bubblewrap we are creating a generation that has no concept of realising the danger that they may be placing themselves in - because they have never learned those valuable lessons that come from hurting yourself. As they say, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

      Jeremy Clarkson said it best:-

      Instead of having an airbag coming out of the steering wheel in an accident to save your head hitting the steering wheel, I favour having a large metal spike come out instead. If we knew that 0.3 seconds after an impact a large metal spike would stab us through the face then IMO driving standards would drastically improve immediately. Modern cars make us feel so safe that we feel we can drive like idiots and if we crash our cars safety features will save us, not so with my method. Simple psychology dictates that the survival instinct would kick in and make us all drive like Mary Poppins.

  • by xRelisH (647464) on Monday December 31, 2007 @01:57AM (#21863114)
    A lot of people seem to belief that having cars on the roads instead of bikes will actually worsen the congestion problems in India. However, I think it may actually improve it, and also reduce traffic violations.

    I think the mobility of a motorbike might actually be a double-edged sword. When you feel mobile, you are more likely to dart across lanes and perhaps even run a red light. With a car, you're much larger, and you're not as agile and less likely to make risky moves, and bumping into someone would mean denting or scratching your car. Bumping into someone when you're on these moped-like bikes at slower speeds is not a big deal, so there's not much of an incentive to be extra cautious.

    I'd also like to think that these cars may be more fuel efficient than a typical two stroke motorbike engine, and could presumably seat 4 (albeit cramped) instead of at most two adults safely on a bike.

    I think it's also interesting how some people cry outrage when the use of fossil fuels may increase when a few minutes later they hop into their SUV. Apparently it's OK for the first world nations to have big cars, but when the Indians want to have a few small ones, it's a bad thing?
  • We need them and there's not many reasons why we can't already have cars that are mostly disposable and/or recyclable. Instead of paying over and over again for the same thing every 2 to five years, automobile companies could offer contracts where you can get X many cars over Y many years. When you're done, you just take the car back to them and get another one and they take care of it. You still have the option of keeping one car if you want to, but for the overwhelming part of the population that tend to
  • The potholes? (Score:3, Informative)

    by HungWeiLo (250320) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:17AM (#21863214)
    First they would have to fix the potholes on the roads. When I was in Bangalore, there were numerous holes in the middle of a wide boulevard. You can't use the word "potholes" because these holes can easily swallow a Honda Civic. Plus, they're usually marked and blocked off by only one single traffic cone. So if Bangalore, being a world class tech city, was like this - I can only imagine the less-endowed cities throughout India. You see a lot less of this in China. Not even the third-tier cities away from the coastline.
  • by indraneil (1011639) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:20AM (#21863230)
    R K Pachauri [wikipedia.org] thinks this will facilitate more gas guzzling on the roads [deccanherald.com], though Tatas are quick to reject [msn.com] it.
    Suzuki [financialexpress.com] thinks safety concerns would mount
    People are also worried if our roads will be congested by these cars.
  • Try this link:

    http://paultan.org/archives/2007/10/07/more-details-on-tata-1-lakh-car/ [paultan.org]

    It looks like a car that's been squeezed. It would never be sold in the US because it's missing all the federally mandated safety features... not to mention that the thing looks like it'll flip over if it goes faster than 40mph.

    What it's going to do is destroy the auto market outside the US. Ford, GM, and heck, even China will have to compete against Tata in the markets that aren't as controlled as the US's is. This is why
  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday December 31, 2007 @02:39AM (#21863336) Homepage Journal
    The world needs something between:

    a motorcycle, which has limited cargo capacity, limited passenger capacity, and a very limited safety profile when it gets in a wreck

    and

    a full, up-to-US-safety-specs car, which typically has a trunk, room for 4 or 5 people, and a good safety factor.

    In America, this will require a change in the law. However, once the law allows less-safe vehicles, a whole market will open up for 2-seater, lightweight mini-cars that run rings around regular cars in fuel economy.
    • you mean a Smart? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Animaether (411575) on Monday December 31, 2007 @05:21AM (#21863974) Journal
      The original/ForTwo, that is (though if I had cash laying around, I'd get a ForFour and a Sportster to go with it); it's already legal in the U.S. and should be officially offered (rather than 'grey market import') Q1 2008.

      Or perhaps a Ford Ka, if you do need the 4/5 seats; though at that point, you almost might as well get a regular sedan/hatchback/whatever-as-long-as-it-isn't-an-SUV, imho.

      There's many, many cars that are very safe, have a trunk, are cheap, economical, etc. The problem isn't that there aren't such cars; the problem is that people - at least in the U.S. - aren't buying them. Things like...
      - top speed being lower than 140mph (which is legal, where? oh, right, you were trying to get away from the crazed axe murderer)
      - acceleration from 0-60 not being lower than 4 seconds (which you need to do, when? ah yes, to accelerate out of the way of the runaway semi)
      - range being less than 100 miles (because gas stations are so hard to find? Oh right, you like taking your economical car to the Alaskan planes or Utah salt beds; I forgot)
      - because an SUV would crush you (good luck trying to crush a Smart, though I'm sure the people in the SUV will have a lesser headache - but let's face it.. chicken&egg problem? Makes me wonder why SUV drivers don't just all have MACK trucks by now; lest their explorer gets crushed by an expedition which gets crushed by an excursion and so forth and so on.)
      - looks. Yes, the typical reason why any economical car - especially electrics - are shot down in the U.S. And when one does look good - hey, fall back to the other 'reasons'.

      It's funny watching Americans coming to live here (NL).. some of them are keen to hold on to their big cars. Why's that funny? Stand around in Amsterdam, The Hague, Groningen, Utrecht, etc. and watch one of them try to navigate the streets, or find a parking space. It's extra-hilarious when somebody in a 45km/h car (don't need a driver's license, just a 'moped/scooter' certificate; but obviously you can't go on highways with it) snags a spot that the engine compartment of their SUV wouldn't even fit in.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Monday December 31, 2007 @10:11AM (#21865664) Homepage Journal
    In India scooters outsell cars 6:1. For any family, getting to an outing requires several trips if they own a scooter. Even if they're crazy and put 2 adults and 2 kids on it. The Tata car is built to infuse that market with a cheap car that can compete on price with getting another scooter and all the troubles associated with being out in the open.

    See in India you can already buy a Bajaj 3-wheeler aka motor rickshaw that seats 4 or 5 or more. But they're fairly expensive and they're not really cars per se - they're rickshaws. I may get one myself if gas gets expensive enough. They're registered as motorcycles in the US. And with an 8.5hp engine, max speed about 45mph it's a great around town vehicle.

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