By Anna Shilongo
Nano, the world’s cheapest car that will soon hit the streets of Indian cities amidst much fanfare, will according to the car’s producers not be exported for now.
Tata India says emerging markets in Africa such as Namibia, and Latin America and Southeast Asia will have to make do with expensive options as the automobile maker will only supply foreign markets in four years’ time as it has to meet domestic demand first.
At the current exchange rate, a brand new Nano sells for N$19 250, far lower than its highly priced competitors.
Those that wished to join the lengthening list of car owners but could not do so due to unfavourable financial positions will have to be more patient.
The General Manager of Associate Motor Holdings that sells the Tata brand in Namibia, Conrad Brits, said the Tata Nano will never come to Africa.
“This is a space car for India, it’s not an export car, its only suitable for the Indian market,” said Brits. But during a recent auto show, the Chairman of Tata India, Ratan Tata, said his group will offer the car to emerging markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa within four years.
The car is believed to have brought joy, pride and utility of ownership to the people of India. It will cost about 120,000 rupees inclusive of road tax and delivery charges.
The car looks very much like Mercedes’ Smart car, but the Nano has an unbelievable price advantage compared to the German designed smart car.
Tata Motors recently unveiled the world’s cheapest vehicle nicknamed the “Peoples Car.” Nano means something that is small and is a four-door car.
According to Richard Chang of the New York Times, the Tata Nano is a little over 10 feet long and nearly 5 feet wide.
It is powered by a 623 cubic-centimeter, two-cylinder engine at the back of the car, with 33 horsepower.
Expected to meet safety standards, it can hold up to five people if they can squeeze themselves in. It has no radio, airbags, or a passenger’s side mirror. It only has one windshield wiper.
Nano has the ability to go at 65 miles an hour, and its four small wheels are placed at the corners of the car to improve handling.
Talking about space, the car has a small trunk, big enough for a duffel bag. It is more like a city car and it is not meant for holidays and cannot accommodate much luggage. Tata is expected to launch the vehicle in the second to third quarter of this year.
The car comes at a time when the African continent faces rapid growing population and spending power as a result of urban migration.
However, with the little money that city migrants make, affording a very cost effective and cheap mode of transport has been very daunting, and critics have argued that the Nano could be the solution to many of the developing countries’ transport woes.
The continent has a skewed public transportation system with only a few strong powers on the continent able to run a barely effective transportation system.
And looking at the market of cars in Namibia, it is difficult to afford a car of your choice, said a motor dealer in Windhoek.