India’s Tata group set to launch world’s cheapest car

NEW DELHI, Dec 30, 2007 (AFP) – India’s giant Tata Group plans to launch the world’s cheapest car early in January while also looking set to drive off with two of the poshest marques — Ford’s iconic Jaguar and Land Rover brands. Ratan Tata, head of the tea-to-steel Tata conglomerate, will unveil the “People’s Car” January 10 at a New Delhi auto show that will carry a sticker price of 100,000 rupees, or 2,500 dollars, which some analysts say could revolutionise automobile costs worldwide.

And Tata, which has been on an aggressive overseas expansion drive, is also expected to win its reported two-billion-dollar bid for the British Land Rover and Jaguar brands in January — putting it in the unusual position of making two prestige cars as well as the world’s lowest-cost automobile.

The cheap car, a pet project of Cornell-trained architect Ratan Tata that he helped design, is aimed at getting India’s masses off their motorbikes and into cars.

“I hope to make a contribution to making life safer for them (the masses),” said reclusive tycoon Ratan Tata, who has spearheaded the growth strategy of the company known for its philanthropic values and paternal management style.

“That’s what drove me — a man on a two-wheel