The launch of the TATA Nano yesterday was a groundbreaking event in many ways. For me it was personal too. To see a automotive breakthrough from India is very satisfying. And it was all possible due to the vision of one man, Ratan Tata.
There has been much written on how the car could be a harbinger of problems in the world. Well, in this scenario any car is. Every car creates congestion (even electric cars!), pollution, uses materials to produce, creates waste at the manufacturing level and pollutes in some form or the other. The Nano is no different in that sense. However, it is much better in many ways.
The Nano produces only 101g/km of emissions (It passes emissions norms – Euro III) , is as fuel efficient as a Prius (25 km per liter/4.2l for 100km or 52 mpg – US), is designed to use less materials, and is cheaper than any other car. In every sense it is green or greener than a Prius.
To compare, check out the Green Vehicle Guide from the Australian government. The Nano beats all.
All the environmentalists who praised the Prius and curse the Nano need to explain how a efficient car like the Nano is worse than a Prius. The same environmentalists must also been happy that the US and world automotive industry have had sales decreases of 45% in the last few months however, I do not see them celebrating it. Because it effects jobs too.
For comparison, a small country like Australia buys 1 million new cars a year. According to the LA Times, “India’s car industry has ample room to grow by the standards of other nations, with just 14 cars per 1,000 population, according to industry figures. That compares with 28 per 1,000 for neighboring Sri Lanka, 400 to 600 per 1,000 for Europe and Japan, and more than 700 per 1,000 for the United States.”
The Nano in order to cut costs has delivered a car which uses less material, less parts and less maintenance.It will also create jobs and may possibly make India the global hub of small cars. What will be interesting would be a lifecycle energy study of the Nano compared to the Prius.
The biggest benefit is in the future. When Tata Motors start putting in their electric technology developed for Indica EV into the E-Nano it will be a whole different game. A small, efficient, electric car below $10,000. Beat that!