Tata's Nano, the World's Cheapest Car, Is Sputtering

Many drivers don’t want to be seen in Tata’s Nano, the people’s car
Photograph by Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

The old adage says a person can’t be too rich or too thin. Given Tata Motors’ disappointing experience with the Nano, the $2,000 compact it introduced with great fanfare in 2008, it’s clear a car can be too cheap—at least for consumers who don’t want to be associated with a low-end ride. Ratan Tata, then chairman of parent Tata Group, made headlines a decade ago when he ordered up a “people’s car” that would appeal to Indian families who previously could only afford to travel by scooter. But Tata Motors has sold just 229,157 Nanos since deliveries began in 2009, and sales in March were off by 86 percent from a year earlier.

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