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India Launches World’s Cheapest Car

Rolling off the production line at an unbelievable £1,200, India today unveiled its controversial ‘People’s Car’, the Tata Nano.

Aimed at the sub-continent’s rapidly growing middle class population, the four-door hatchback will sell for less than half the price of the current cheapest car.

The compact vehicle, which costs the same as a DVD player in a Lexus, is powered by a rear-mounted 623cc engine which is capable of propelling the Nano to a top speed of 65mph with an average fuel consumption of 50mpg.

However, environmental groups have been quick to raise the alarm, fearing the high demand for the car will drastically increase CO2 emissions in a country already experiencing the affects of climate change.

In Delhi air pollution levels are currently more than twice the safe limit, with traffic speeds at peak times averaging just 7mph. According to The Times, 1,000 new vehicles are registerd every day in the city.

“Even if they claim it will be fuel efficient, the sheer numbers will undermine this,” said Vivek Chattopadhyaya of the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi. While Chief UN climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri said last month he was “having nightmares” about the impact of the new car. Greenpeace also expressed its concern by staging a protest outside the New Dehli Motor Show, where the Nano was revealed in a glitzy ceremony earlier today.

At the launch, company chairman Ratan Tata - whose Tata conglomerate is the current favourites to takeover the Jaguar and Land Rover marques - dismissed the environmental concerns, saying the Nano would conform to all emission standards in India and Europe. “We need to think of our masses. Should they be denied the right to an individual form of transport?” he asked.

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published: 18:38 - 10 January 2008