World's cheapest car, Tata Nano, revs toward US

Will the Tata Nano lose its superlative price tag once it hits American shores?

The Tata Nano is coming to the US.

The world's cheapest car will soon enter the land of SUVs.

Tata Nano, an itty bitty car with a price tag to match, costs just $2,500 in India. And now, after surprising the world with its minimalism, Tata Motors is ready to let its young vehicle see the world.

Well on its way toward finishing a European model, Tata said this week that it's also tinkering with an American Nano. However, the car will need to beef up before it's ready to leave India.

US and EU safety and emission standards are far stricter than India's. The Nano's two-cylinder, 623cc engine will need to be reworked before it can meet pollution caps. The company will add airbags, a stronger roof, and a different design for the back seats to satisfy seat-belts laws. These additions will take about three years to finish and likely more than double the price of each car.

"The structural changes that would need to be made, the changes that would be required as far as emissions are concerned, and some of the features that would be appropriate to add to the vehicle for the North American market, obviously that would drive up the price point," says Tata executive Warren Harris in an AP interview.

The European Nano will sell for about $8,000. Tata officials say the US should expect a similar price.

Even with the changes, the Tata Nano may look peculiar to American eyes. Its 12-inch wheels seem a little – well – distorted. Its engine tops out at 65 miles per hour. However, fans argue that its 50 miles-per-gallon rating more than makes up for any aesthetic quirks.

And, as the AP points out: "If the $8,000 price tag holds true, it would cost far less than the $9,970 Hyundai Accent, currently the car with the lowest base sticker price in the U.S."


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