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Why US scribes are punching the Tata Nano??

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Source Rediffnews 14.01.08

Tata Nano is the Model-T of

India. It represents 'Rang De Basanti,' a freedom no different from

what Ford brought to the American consumer about a 100 years ago. And

yet, it is already being challenged, not so much on price or on

technology. It is considered a polluter, a source of global warming, in

short, a threat to humanity.

Among its notable critics are columnists from the New York Times, Newsweek, and several media outlets. Only a few years ago, author and NYT

columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that the world was divided into those

who want a Toyota Lexus and those who are searching for an olive tree

(in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree).

Today, the

answer has arrived for the former audience in the form of the Tata

Nano. Yet the former author of articles like, 'Two for the price of

one' was quick to call the Nano, a 'cheap copy of our worst habits.'

Newsweek,

in an article headlined 'A Billion New Tailpipes' was far more

critical. 'It turned out to be a four-seater, a bit more than three

meters long, with a 642cc engine and made of plastic and glue instead

of welded steel,' is how the article put it.

The article quotes a

Yale environmentalist, Daniel Esty, as saying: "This car promises to be

an environmental disaster of substantial proportions."

The

reasons why American journalism is against the Tata Nano are obvious.

The Nano was 'not invented here (in the United States).'

Dan Esty has a typical American mindset. Esty, who was quick to praise the Prius (in Green to Gold)

to the skies and promote aircraft manufacturer GE, oil-giant BP, does

not use the same yardstick that the second law of thermodynamics does.

The

Prius gives about the same mileage as the Nano and seats just as many.

Yet, at over $25,000, the Prius is the rich man's answer to the

environment. I believe that for the rest, there is the Nano.

In

the years to come, the Nano might come in a flex-fuel version, or might

use ethanol or electric cells. . . but you have to give Tata time to

gain marketshare AND innovate at the low price point. Which is why I must ask: "Why the double fuel-efficiency standards, Mr Esty?"

As

relations between India and the US started to blossom recently, a 'fair

trade' agreement was aimed at heralding a new era of cooperation,

namely mangoes and motorcycles. The mango was previously seen as

endangering the environment. In a compromise aimed at going easy on the

mango, Harley Davidson was to enter the Indian market with a motorcycle

that gives less mileage than the Nano and costs Rs 4 to 14 lakh (Rs

400,000 to Rs 1.4 millon). There was little comment from Tom Friedman

then, saying, 'No, no, no, don't follow us. Drive your own scooters.'

And

finally I must end with the Golden Arches. In a recent report,

published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the

livestock sector was reported as generating more 18 percent greenhouse

gas emissions -- as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent -- than the

transport sector.

Tom Friedman, who once seemed to believe that

McDonald's was the answer to world peace, might next call for a

moratorium on the burger -- when there is an Indian fast food company

that sells burgers and chicken nuggets a little cheaper.

Srinivas Bharadwaj is an engineer and author of a novel, Kurukshetra.

Comments by Yours truly:

The US scribes who are critical of the  Nano must first see how, at their home country, in the metros, cities, towns, villages and their freeways and highways, the  2500 - 3000cc  power plants of their people's cars eversince the turn of the last century viz. Fords, Pontiacs, Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles,Hudsons, Dodges, Desotos, Plymouths and the straight eights and V 8 engines of these brands, eversince the 1930's, not to speak of their executive and luxury marques and the UV's and SUV's today, have been the worst polluters all over the globe. Invincible they are it appears!

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It is a clear case of Sour Grapes.

As for the environmental issue, at a production of 250,000 cars a year it is probably far less than the SUV market in the US. As so well put by India Today that is less than the expansions announced by the various manufacturers in India!

The yanks are running scared, that is all.

For four years everyone cried that a car for 1L was impossible. Now of course teh grapes are very sour indeed.

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already with the economy in doledrums and auto companies in bankruptcy...it seems that the americans cant swallow an developing country comming out with a true winner.the worlds largest polluter is taking this route is just bucking in ts own deeds.pollution is jus a misnomer and trying to deveate from the actual success the car gonna make it,while the french and the european have acknowledged the efforts.i believe we dont need american approval for our products to be successful.indians and indian companies are truly world class and tata`s have proved that they also have the best social accountability towards the society and the public...

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yes yes yes, like i always said, US being the world's top polluter must shut up and first correct itself to reduce pollution and then comment on India who is far in the list of world's top polluters

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I think the US should first try to contain gas usage and in turn polution at there end before pointing fingures at others. Can you imagine the amount of fuel the americans consume everyday where nearly 90% of the vehicles are occupied by just one person, on average travelling 30+ miles per day and using the biggest possible engines (nothing less than a V6 will do). Imagine if they start using even 25% more fuel efficient vehicles say replacing the V6's with 1.5 L 4 cyls and the V8's with 2.5 L 5 cyls the amount of fuel saved and the amount of pollution contained  will be really amzing.

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I think the Americans are jealous of us.I don't think they could have pulled of what the Tatao company did - building a good car for so cheap.Let me be even more frank - it is an excellent car for the given price tag.

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Would love to see Ford or Gm or any other US company pull off a nano in the Indian Market.

Fat chance. They all said that a 1L car was impossible. Now they are scared as hell!

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The markets are very different but this cannot be ruled out. Europe should not be that tough - he claimed EuroIV and the engine has FIAT in it. As for the crash worthiness, ABS, Airbags, etc. these are possible. So in short yes he can do it. However, with only 250k cars per annum he cannot  go everywhere at once.

Toady I see that Renault-Nissan have lowered their price target from $3k to $2.5k!

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I think Tata should think of marketing the nano to all third world countries.He should set up separate plants to manufacture these if necessary.

This will be the logical second market with India as No.1. Any vehicle howsoever well designed invariably has a few bugs when put in the hands of the public. So they will first iron out the niggles in India, then go for the III world than the rest. Here I will expect UK to be the first marker esp. if they finally seal the deal on JLR. It is RHD and somewhat known territory. Also, the Brits have a long history for being receptive to off beat vehicles.

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