Could the maker of some of the most expensive and iconic luxury vehicles in the world be bringing the world's cheapest car to the U.S?
That's what Ratan Tata would like to see. He's the chairman of his family's Tata Group, an Indian conglomerate that also happens to sell the Tata Nano in its home market. As the name indicates, the Nano is a tiny car about the size of Chiclet that sells for about $2,500.
The car has had middling success in India, but that hasn't dissuaded Tata from saying he wants to bring the car stateside.
The billionaire recently told Automotive News, "The U.S. is a very enticing market. We are redesigning the Nano for both Europe and the U.S."
What does an Indian automaker know about the U.S. market? More than you might think, though not the low end of it. Tata Group just so happens to own Jaguar and Land Rover, both of which it bought in 2008.
So the owner of some of the world's most opulent vehicles wants to bring to the U.S. a car with fewer amenities and horsepower than your average lawn mower.
To do so, the Nano would need to be brought up to U.S. crash and safety regulations. Items like air bags, stability control and power steering would need to be added, and there would likely be a bump in horsepower from the current car's 37 (yes, 37).
Tata says that the Nano would appeal to U.S. buyers who want a small car like the Smart, Scion iQ and Fiat 500, yet don't want to pay the premium those vehicles command. "We hope that the sub-$10,000 car has appeal," he told Automotive News.
What remains to be seen is if consumers here have an appetite for a bite-size car with a bite-size price tag. Would you buy a sub-$10,000 small car? Remember, it can't mow your lawn.