India’s Tata unveils world’s cheapest car

NEW DELHI, Jan 10, 2008 (AFP) – India’s Tata Group unveiled Thursday the world’s cheapest car costing 2,500 dollars amid predictions the no-frills vehicle could revolutionise how millions in India and elsewhere travel. The launch of the Tata Nano was a landmark in the history of transportation, claimed 70-year-old tycoon Ratan Tata, the head of the giant conglomerate, while rejecting fears the spartan car would add to congestion and pollution.

The four-door, five-seater vehicle is due to hit the roads later this year at just 100,000 rupees (2,500 US dollars), excluding tax, after Tata Group cut costs back to the bone.

The theme from Stanley Kubrick’s film, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” played as Tata unveiled the snub-nosed Nano — so-called to appear both high-tech and small — to cheers and applause at the annual Delhi car show.

The tycoon, who drove a Nano into the unveiling, said he had wanted to make “a safe, affordable and all-weather transport — a people’s car, designed to meet all safety standards and emissions laws and accessible to all.”

The Nano has a small, rear-mounted engine with a top speed of 105 kilometres (65 miles) per hour. But the basic model has no air conditioning, electric windows