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$2,000 Car Does 56 MPG: The Tata Nano

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 39 comments

Want to buy a new car? How does one for under $2,000 and gets 56 miles to the gallon sound? It’s no dream, it’s a reality and it’s called the Tata Nano.

Earlier this week, Tata Motors unveiled at the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in Mumbai, India a petrol-powered four wheel vehicle that will cost 100,000 rupees, which at present time equates to $1,988. While a car at that price sounds within reach for all readers in the western world, the cost of living is much different in India. Still, the Tata Nano represents more than ever a car that’s made for the people.

“The Nano represents the spirit of breaking conventional barriers. From the drawing board to its commercial launch, the concept, development and production of the car has overcome several challenges. It is to the credit of the team at Tata Motors that a car once thought impossible by the world is now a reality,” said Tata Motors chairman Ratan N Tata. “I hope it will provide safe, affordable, four-wheel transportation to families who till now have not been able to own a car. We are delighted in presenting the Tata Nano to India and the world.”

At a time when purchasing fuel efficient cars--hybrids in particular--costs more, the Tata Nano turns such thinking on its side with its 56 mpg rating. Of course, performance isn’t the focus of the vehicle with its 2-cylinder aluminum MPFI 624cc petrol engine mated to a four-speed gear box.

The 2-cylinder engine delivers around 35 hp @ 5,250 RPM and a torque of 35 ft. lbs. @ 3,000 RPM and enables the car to have a top speed of 65 mph and negotiate inclines with a gradeability of 30 percent.

Of course, it’s hard not to immediately notice the similarities between the design and perhaps even the philosophy between the Tata Nano and the Smartcar. Both are compact, minimalist designs with a small engine. The Tata Nano has a curb weight of 1,323 lbs, while the Smartcar is at 1,600 lbs.

The Tata Nano is currently being manufactured at the company's Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand in limited numbers. The new dedicated plant, at Sanand in Gujarat, will be ready in 2010 with an annualized capacity of 350,000 cars. Check out the official website.

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  • 0 Hide
    A Stoner , March 25, 2009 5:25 PM
    Amazing, isn't it. The things that every person that has a basis in reality about cars is that the way to reduce fuel consumption is to reduce the size of the vehicle and the overall weight of it. Imagine though driving one of these small cars in the USA on a road with a 75MPH speed limit where large tractor-trailers hauling massive loads are, which also have a huge wind gust following them everywhere they go. Would you want to have your family in one of these vehicles? Technology will eventually arrive at a point where we can have a safe and fuel efficient vehicle that does not require massive amounts of energy and resources required to manufacture. Today, technology is not at that point. You can pick conventional, lower MPG, safe vehicles that are not out of line for overall invironmental impact, or you can have cheaply built, high MPG vehicles that are at best unsafe for the occupants, or you can have costly environmentally damaging in creation hybrids that get high MPG but overall cause the same environmental damage over a lifetime as a conventional vehicle, while at the same time being slightly less safe and less useful. Your choices, I could care less what you PICK, just so long as my choice of a conventional vehicle is not infringed upon.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , March 25, 2009 5:25 PM
    More like a Fiat 126p than a smart. Thanks, but no thanks. I bet it will fall apart in 1 year.
  • 0 Hide
    AndrewMD , March 25, 2009 5:49 PM
    @drut1234 - so what? I spend an upwards of $10,000 a year on a car and dump it? If this thing could last a year, then I'll just buy another one.

    People say the same thing about cheap computers, but people continue to buy and replace...

  • Display all 39 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    tipoo , March 25, 2009 5:56 PM
    That deystroys the Fortwo's rating...Of course it also has less powa.
  • 8 Hide
    falchard , March 25, 2009 5:58 PM
    I heard of vehicle design 70 year old that gets 75 MPG, has a top speed of 300km/h, and makes you look badass at the cost of several thousand dollars. Its called a motorcycle. You can easily get better mpg if you reduce weight, but is it for the best?
  • 3 Hide
    tipoo , March 25, 2009 6:03 PM
    falchardI heard of vehicle design 70 year old that gets 75 MPG, has a top speed of 300km/h, and makes you look badass at the cost of several thousand dollars. Its called a motorcycle. You can easily get better mpg if you reduce weight, but is it for the best?



    Yup ;-)

    I'm interested in these covered motorcycles, like the monotracer.
  • 7 Hide
    gm0n3y , March 25, 2009 6:35 PM
    How hard is it to get 56MPG when your car weighs 1300 or so pounds and only has 35HP. I could build a go cart that gets better fuel mileage than that but that doesn't make it a good car.
  • 1 Hide
    jsloan , March 25, 2009 6:46 PM
    ok where / when can i buy one, it looks greats for teens and city driving...
  • 3 Hide
    gnesterenko , March 25, 2009 7:04 PM
    A StonerAmazing, isn't it. The things that every person that has a basis in reality about cars is that the way to reduce fuel consumption is to reduce the size of the vehicle and the overall weight of it. Imagine though driving one of these small cars in the USA on a road with a 75MPH speed limit where large tractor-trailers hauling massive loads are, which also have a huge wind gust following them everywhere they go. Would you want to have your family in one of these vehicles? Technology will eventually arrive at a point where we can have a safe and fuel efficient vehicle that does not require massive amounts of energy and resources required to manufacture. Today, technology is not at that point. You can pick conventional, lower MPG, safe vehicles that are not out of line for overall invironmental impact, or you can have cheaply built, high MPG vehicles that are at best unsafe for the occupants, or you can have costly environmentally damaging in creation hybrids that get high MPG but overall cause the same environmental damage over a lifetime as a conventional vehicle, while at the same time being slightly less safe and less useful. Your choices, I could care less what you PICK, just so long as my choice of a conventional vehicle is not infringed upon.



    You realize of course that these small cars are built for folks who live and commute into the city, with much stop and go traffic and very limited highway use? Yes, we have different options, because not everyone needs the same thing. Market segmentation we call it.

    "The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."
  • 5 Hide
    Regected , March 25, 2009 7:26 PM
    A StonerAmazing, isn't it. The things that every person that has a basis in reality about cars is that the way to reduce fuel consumption is to reduce the size of the vehicle and the overall weight of it. Imagine though driving one of these small cars in the USA on a road with a 75MPH speed limit where large tractor-trailers hauling massive loads are, which also have a huge wind gust following them everywhere they go. Would you want to have your family in one of these vehicles?


    This is the same mentality that has forced the US auto makers into making huge SUVs that suck down gas. It's not that small and efficient cars are not safe, it's that the huge SUVs are unsafe. When two compact cars hit each other, the drivers walk away, but when an SUV hits a compact car, it never ends well for the driver of the compact car.
  • 1 Hide
    gm0n3y , March 25, 2009 7:27 PM
    gnesterenkoYou realize of course that these small cars are built for folks who live and commute into the city, with much stop and go traffic and very limited highway use? Yes, we have different options, because not everyone needs the same thing. Market segmentation we call it."The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed."


    Fair enough. If you lived in Mumbai or Dehli you probably wouldn't need anymore power than the Nano has. The small girth would also likely be welcome giving the car better maneuverability.
  • 3 Hide
    vir_cotto , March 25, 2009 7:34 PM
    The bikes that get up to 186mph(Hayabusa ZX-14 that I can think of) do not get 75mpg, more around 30-40mpg, still better than a car IMO.

    I do have a bike that gets 75mpg that tops out at 100mph though.
  • 2 Hide
    jsloan , March 25, 2009 9:20 PM
    i agree this is not a care you want to be on the highways with, but this is the perfect car for city driving where you basically do 25-30 mps and the big thing is finding street parking. plus for $2-3k if they ding it who cares...
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , March 25, 2009 9:28 PM
    If They can build a whole car for under $2000.00 why are we paying the prices that we pay for cars. Or for that matter motorbikes which cost far more and 4 wheelers. Just goes to show you that the capitalistic pigs are raping us and living fat. When is this all going to end. Well in the history of man we have never been able to govern ourselves successfully. No we all know in business that if a model does not work we need to change it. Well this model of governing ourselves is not working. We have tried them all. Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, Kingdoms,Dictatorships and whatever else out there. Still have not got it right.
    What Now??????
    Stay Tuned for the answer!!!!
  • 2 Hide
    gm0n3y , March 25, 2009 10:10 PM
    katooshIf They can build a whole car for under $2000.00 why are we paying the prices that we pay for cars. Or for that matter motorbikes which cost far more and 4 wheelers. Just goes to show you that the capitalistic pigs are raping us and living fat. When is this all going to end. Well in the history of man we have never been able to govern ourselves successfully. No we all know in business that if a model does not work we need to change it. Well this model of governing ourselves is not working. We have tried them all. Communism, Socialism, Capitalism, Kingdoms,Dictatorships and whatever else out there. Still have not got it right.What Now??????Stay Tuned for the answer!!!!


    Exactly, we all know car companies are just raking in record profits.... wait, that's not right...

    jsloancity driving where you basically do 25-30 mps


    25-30 meters per second is pretty fast for city driving (around 55-65MPH), unless you meant miles per second, in which case I want the vehicle you're driving.
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , March 25, 2009 10:44 PM
    This is a great product, enough with the lame "what if you get hit by a semi" argument, there's no guarantee that SUV drivers are going to survive that either, despite that extra 5000lbs of vehicle they don't need to drive one person to and from work. What are the odds of getting hit by a semi, like maybe 1 in 10,000 people has such an accident in their life? It's time to start thinking responsibly about conservation instead of lifestyle.
  • 5 Hide
    ethaniel , March 26, 2009 12:20 AM
    An old concept made new, in my opinion. First, it was the Citröen 2CV, then the Fiat 600, the english original Mini Cooper, the Renault 4, all the japanese minis out there, and I can go on. Mini cars have been among us since the vehicle industry can remember. The Nano is just another mini, adjusted to these economically difficult times we are facing. One more option, I say welcome to it.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , March 26, 2009 12:24 AM
    this car has no safety things, no seat belts (not necessary in India), no airbags, no radio/airco, and when a frontal hit to a car/concrete log at 40mph there's above 75% probability of (instant) death!
    No safety zone (where a car would catch the impact on a hit).

    Actually I heard they are sold for around 1300 over there.
  • 2 Hide
    graviongr , March 26, 2009 1:11 AM
    jsloanok where / when can i buy one, it looks greats for teens and city driving...


    I don't know what country you live in, but if it's the US, then this automobile will not be sold in the US because it cannot meet safety standards that are required criteria.

    You might be able to find one in the US, but it won't be able to be legally licensed. You will stick out like a sore thumb and probably be pulled over.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 26, 2009 2:32 AM
    Seriously, what a waste of effort. My jeep has a two stroke Detroit Diesel 3-53T in it and I get 34mpg, which is more than most cars. And guess what the engine was designed in 1938.
    It doesnt look all that hot now does it. My vehicle is 4500lbs too

    My scooter has a 7.8hp engine on it and I get 196mpg. It has 4 wheels and a single speed with a centrfgal clutch able to go 55mph. It accelerates faster than that car, and oh yeah. It only cost me the price of the wheels to make it, so $60

    K-TRON
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