Press Report : Tata plans to bring Nano to US in 3 years

Lindsay Chappell, Automotive News, 5th June, 2009

Tata Motors, the Indian automaker that owns Jaguar and Land Rover, plans to bring the car known as the world’s cheapest to the United States within three years.

David Good, a U.S. representative for Tata, confirmed statements made by Chairman Ratan Tata at a Cornell University forum this week and reported by Reuters. Customer deliveries of the Nano, which starts at about $2,500, are scheduled to begin in India next month. Ratan Tata said it would arrive here in about two years, Good said in an interview today. “It might be two years and six months,” he added.

The move stands to make Tata the second automaker to import Indian-built vehicles to the United States and represents a low-cost threat to established competitors. Global Vehicles U.S.A. Inc., of suburban Atlanta, plans to introduce pickups made by Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. later this year.

The Nano “will need to meet all emission and crash standards,” Tata told a panel Wednesday in New York at the inaugural Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Global Enterprise. The executive said his company is also working to develop cars that run on fuels other than gasoline, such as clean diesel, biofuels and batteries.

Tata will not use Jaguar Land Rover’s distribution network and vice versa.” Stuart Schorr, a spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover North America

Good, who attended the forum, said he couldn’t outline how the Nano would be distributed. Options include creating the car’s own network or channeling sales through Jaguar and Land Rover dealerships, he said. Tata Motors bought the two U.K. luxury brands from Ford Motor Co. for $2.3 billion in 2008. However, in a subsequent email Stuart Schorr, a spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover North America, said: “Tata will not use Jaguar Land Rover’s distribution network and vice versa.”

Tata Motors plans to offer a European version of the car in 2011, the Chairman said. He got the idea to make a car that poor people could afford while thinking about the motorbike and scooter riders who maneuver through the streets of Indian cities with their children on board.

The four-seat Nano gets up to 65 mpg. Cheap labor helps keep the price down but production of the Nano was delayed by protests over land use where a plant was to be located. The first 100,000 owners are being selected by lottery.

[Source: Automotive News]

Clive Goldthorp

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