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

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.