The giant “Tata Group”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tata_Group is “launching a 100.000 rupee car in 2008”:http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1726576,00020010.htm:
bq.. Tata Group Chief Ratan Tata told shareholders that the launch of the car would create a new paradigm in low-cost personal transport, carve out a new market segment and reach a broader base of the pyramid.
“The styling and designing of the car have been completed and prototypes are being tested in the plant. It will be a rear engine, 4-5 seat, four-door car with about a 30 horsepower engine,” Tata said in the company’s annual report for 2005-06.
The car will be launched in early 2008 and we believe it will be extremely attractive to the Indian consumer, particularly younger families, at a price level of about Rs one lakh, Tata said.
p. If lauched at that price, for even a few hundred dollars more, this will change the entire country.
All is not roses and sunshine. Lee Schipper, Director of Research for WRI’s Center for Sustainable Transport, “commented”:http://www.nextbillion.net/blogs/2006/06/26/indias-model-t-tatas-2000-car-out-by-2008#comment-818 on the implications of a low-cost car for India at “NextBillion.net”:http://www.nextbillion.net/blogs/2006/06/26/indias-model-t-tatas-2000-car-out-by-2008:
bq.. While individual mobility is something to be cherished, providing an inexpensive four wheeled vehicle in a country that has not even managed to provide infrastructure for the tens of millions of polluting two-wheelers seems a bit odd. Worse, most Indian cities do not even have proper sidewalks, cycle paths, or even clean and well lit bus stops, which gives the majority of Indians better transport.
No one should mistake this as a move in the direction of sustainable transport. To be sure, it would be better if these inexpensive vehicles were low-energy using, slow, and clean city cars. But the manufacturer also should support public policies and regulations in cities to ensure that their products don’t overwhelm or worsen the quality of life for city dwellers as a whole.
p. In the third world, urban centers are already overwhelmed, and many, like Karachi and Mumbai are already choking on their filth.
Forwared looking cities, like London, Seattle and many others are trying to “lower the number of cars”:http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/transportation/258737_nocar08.html, while others like Karachi are blindly embraching the cult of the car on their way to becoming a shining jewel in a “planet of slums”:http://www.newleftreview.net/NLR26001.shtml. Portland for example:
bq. The city’s Office of Transportation, Metro, and the Tri-Met transit agency have led the nation in linking transportation to land use and livability. Light rail transit, new trolley car lines downtown, a model transit mall, downtown free-ride zones, bicycle and pedestrian ways, 100 percent bike-accessible buses and rail, dedicated bus-ways, transit shelters with video monitors and next-bus information, and transit oriented development incentives have contributed to the national recognition of Portland as a leader in *getting people out of cars.*
The car is Indian, so the knee jerk Pakistan reactioni will be to ban it. Which is both good and bad. If Tata manages to bring out this car, the Chinese won’t be far behind.
* “WorldChanging: Urban Transport”:http://worldchanging.com/search/?keyword=urban+transport&category=&author=&month=&search.x=0&search.y=0&search=Go