World's Cheapest Car Introduced

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India's Tata Motors unveiled the Nano–the world's cheapest car yesterday. The Nano is about 10 feet long, 5 feet wide. The 2-cylinder petrol engine delivers 33 horsepower and a top speed of just over 60 mph. The $2500 basic model has no radio, air-conditioning or air bags, but it does have seat belts, a catalytic converter to reduce air pollution and gets 50 miles to the gallon.

Members of the media look at a newly launched Tata Nano car at the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. India's Tata Motors unveiled its much anticipated US$2,500 car, an ultracheap price tag that suddenly brings car ownership into the reach of tens of millions of people across the world.

Compare the Tata Nano with the Ford Model T which was introduced in 1909. According to the Kansas City Star, it cost $825, had a 4-cylinder, 20 horsepower engine with a top speed of 45 mph. The Model T had fuel economy between 13 to 21 miles per gallon. It had no seatbelts, air-conditioning was provided by lowering the top, but it did feature acetylene headlamps.
Nearly a century of technological progress makes things a lot cheaper and vastly more functional. In inflation-adjusted terms, a Model T would cost about $18,000 today. Conversely, a Tata Nano would cost only $115 in 1909 dollars.
Now that's progress!
Update: I can't resist comparing the Tata Nano to the 1960 VW Beetle.
1960 Volkswagen Beetle
The 1960 Beetle had a 34 horsepower engine and got 30 miles per gallon. It had no pollution controls or seat belts. The big news is that the Beetle got an actual gas gauge in 1961. It cost $1,565.
So today, a 1960 VW Beetle would cost about $10,500 in inflation-adjusted dollars. A Tata Nano would cost only $375 in 1960 dollars.
And what about the 1985 Yugo?
http://img.timeinc.net/time/2007/50_cars/yugo.jpg
In 1985, it cost $3,990. Today, that would be about $7,500. And a Nano would cost around $4,700 $1,350 n 1985 dollars.

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  1. Kewl. You can park nose-in in the parking lane!

  2. The $2500 basic model as no radio, air-conditioning or air bags, but it does have seat belts and a catalytic converter to reduce air pollution and gets 50 miles to the gallon.

    Are there holes in the floor for your feet?

    1. Get the manual transmission that way you don’t have to keep the battery working!

  3. I wonder if we would have the Nano today in a world without patents.

    I also wonder if we would have had the Nano 50 years ago in a world without patents.

    Important policy issues, but difficult to even guess at the answers.

  4. Progress? Anything that assumes the contiued use of the automobile as the principal mode of transport is retro in the extreme. Progress is seeing the relationship between the car and the way settlements have been designed, recognizing its dysfunctional nature and coming up with a holistic blueprint for post-automobile design. What will we do instead? When we start seeing that that is the question, we will have made progress.

  5. Hmmm. I’m reminded a little of the Yugo.

  6. Cars are very useful appliances, Mr. Rose. Even the residents of the most walkable, transit-oriented communties will have a use for them.

    Car-free will never be practical for the majority. We should aim for car-lite.

  7. “Coming up with a holistic blueprint for post-automobile design” is something that the idle rich can consider. It’s not something that a country with a billion poor who will be choosing the much safer Tata over their current moped can really give a shit about.

    CB

  8. Give us the address to your holistic gulag, Stephen.
    I’d love to live there. Sounds like a swell place.

  9. Get ready for Apple to sue these guys for using “Nano”.

  10. It’s not something that a country with a billion poor who will be choosing the much safer Tata over their current moped can really give a shit about.

    Their current overloaded multi-passenger moped…

  11. I wonder if we’d have flying cars today if it weren’t for patents.

  12. a holistic blueprint for post-automobile design.

    Heh. That’s just precious.

  13. SR: As someone who did not drive for 20 years (between ages 20 and 40) I appreciate car-less living. However, aren’t you being a tad techno-pessimistic? Straighline extrapolations of technological progress are rarely right. For example, I think that eco-friendly electric cars using highly efficient batteries fueled by nuclear and renewable energy will supply a good deal of personal transport in the future. And the cars will drive themselves too. This means that a lot of people will still be living in suburbs. In other words, a post-automobile is not at all likely.

  14. Let me guess: they’re illegal in the United States because they don’t meet safety standards. So we’ll pass laws mandating an extra $10,000 worth of safety features on the car, and then start sobbing about how tragic it is that poor people can’t afford to buy the automobiles that would give them the freedom and mobility to move themselves into the middle class.

  15. I wonder if we’d have flying cars today if it weren’t for patents.

    we do. They are called airplanes. The people who made them up were extremely motivated by patent incentives.

  16. In other words, a post-automobile world is not at all likely.

    Grrr. And I even previewed too.

  17. You think people who can only afford a moped are going to have $2500 lying around?

    If you’re worried about the transportation needs of India’s urban poor, think rail and bus. A $2500 car is for the middle class and for occupational use in India.

  18. Not just because they are unsafe, Jennifer, but because they’ll be yet another undue hardship on the suffering ‘Merican Auto Fiasco, er, Industry.

  19. joe–I can afford a moped, but I needed a loan to buy my cars. I could save for $2500 and quite honestly, I would seriously consider using a Nano for a commuter car. I can swing that cost in cash and it’s better than driving my much larger family sedan.

    Mr. Rose–Can I hop on your back for a ride? My feet hurt.

  20. The $2500 basic model has no radio, air-conditioning or air bags, but it does have seat belts, a catalytic converter to reduce air pollution and gets 50 miles to the gallon.

    Add a back seat and i’m sold.

  21. “we do. They are called airplanes. The people who made them up were extremely motivated by patent incentives.”

    And yet the first person to fly a plane without any external aid, Santos-Dumont, was not motivated by patent incentives. Also, airplanes are not flying cars. If they were, we wouldn’t call them airplanes. We would call them “flying cars.” The idea of practical flying cars isn’t just about the vehicle itself.

  22. “Chief U.N. climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who shared last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said last month that “I am having nightmares” about the prospect of the low-cost car.”

    Funny that he isn’t having nightmares about the road carnage of a family on a moped or yet another overloaded train that crashes or burns and kills hundreds.

    Just freakin’ hilarious.

  23. JW-
    That’s because if a lot of people are killed in an overloaded train or the like, they are killed ‘Collectively.’

    /snark

  24. JW,

    I was talking about India. Indian moped:American moped::the Nano:AMerican car.

    This product is a consequence of people in India moving into its middle class.

    Jennifer’s got a good point. The safety in standards in America are based on the need to keep safe people whizzing along highways at highway speeds. That car is plenty safe for driving around a city.

  25. JW,

    Ever compare fatality rates between cars and trains? Not even close.

  26. If you really want to see some carnage, JW, put a few million people in Nanos and build American-style suburbs and highways.

  27. I was talking about India. Indian moped:American moped::the Nano:AMerican car.

    I know, but you’re awfully quick to foreclose on how much a billion people might like to not get wet when they travel and to actually carry something other than on their back.

    That a middle class suddenly bloomed in India once it resolved to abandon the socialist economic model (even tho’ not completely) isn’t a coincidence. I also suspect that Tata knows that the market is only going to grow, and most likely not only with the middle class.

    From documentaries I’ve seen on the changes in India, there is a tremendous pent-up desire to acquire material wealth in all classes. The now reachable washing machine and a TV antenna is a sign of status in the slums.

    Ever compare fatality rates between cars and trains? Not even close.

    In India or the US? There’s a reason you don’t regularly see news about train derailments and ferry capsizings in US environs, but not so in the subcontintent.

  28. And yet the first person to fly a plane without any external aid, Santos-Dumont, was not motivated by patent incentives. Also, airplanes are not flying cars. If they were, we wouldn’t call them airplanes. We would call them “flying cars.” The idea of practical flying cars isn’t just about the vehicle itself.

    well, okay, let’s go with the specific issue you are raising.

    Of people out there who might be working on flying cars, but aren’t, why aren’t they. In theory, I can think of lots of reasons:

    1. Too busy designing new weapons for US military on a cost plus basis paid out by tax funds (lookin’ at you carrick).

    2. Not convinced that the patent(s) obtained will provide reasonably bullet-proof exclusionary rights for a decent amout of time to give ROI. In other words, worried that they will have to compete with other manufacturer’s flying cars — manufacturers who specialize in building other people’s machines but with cheaper labour.

    3. too worried that patents of others, say the patent trolls, will tie them up in patent litigation even if the patent trolls patents are not truly helpful in making a practical flying car.

    4. worried that there will not be a market. for example, the obvious safety issues may so restrict the operation of flying cars such that they are not palatable to a mass market. For example, many wives may not let their husbands buy flying cars. Insurance companies may charge a lot to insure flying cars. Regulators may regulate the crap out of flying cars. Etc.

    5. There are other reasons that there might not be a market. For example, energy costs may be prohibitive.

    6. Worried about product liability. Worried that they will not be able to effectively get consumers to legally disclaim any responsibility for design issues.

    7. Technical barriers we do not appreciate as layppl. For example, it seems like the people who would most want flying cars are the military and contractors in Iraq. To spell it out, flying cars would help them avoid IED’s. Put this obvious need together with the fact that weapons research is well-funded relative to consumer product research and you really begin to suspect that if flying cars were remotely feasible, then the army would have them.

    Now, please understand that I am not saying that any of these seven factors are necessarily true, or necessarily important. However, if we want to make technology move fwd as fast as possible, then I think this is the stuff policy makers at thinktanks like The Cato Institute should be thinking about. R. Bailey’s “yeah for technology” boosterism is nice enough, but there are thinkier issues to be thunk about here.

  29. Baked – ah yes! The cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology!!

  30. If you really want to see some carnage, JW, put a few million people in Nanos and build American-style suburbs and highways.

    Maybe so, but there are obviously enviros with some seriously misplaced priorities that would deny them the choice to begin with, would that they could.

    You can greatly mitigate risk with cars (sadly, but not their idiot drivers). Not so much with over-stressed public transport and 2-wheelers.

  31. You think people who can only afford a moped are going to have $2500 lying around?

    No, but the emerging middle class will. And it won’t be “lying around” any more than the $25K for your car is lying around. I believe they have financing in India now.

  32. “I wonder if we’d have flying cars today if it weren’t for patents.”

    There was a flying car invented in the 20’s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autogiro

  33. “there are obviously enviros with some seriously misplaced priorities that would deny them the choice to begin with”

    Indeed, that is the case for many things worldwide.

  34. JW,

    I know, but you’re awfully quick to foreclose on how much a billion people might like to not get wet when they travel and to actually carry something other than on their back. No, not really. I’m the guy who mentioned buses, trains, and the usefulness of the cars for occupational use.

    That a middle class suddenly bloomed in India once it resolved to abandon the socialist economic model (even tho’ not completely) isn’t a coincidence. Wow, you really are banging away at the anti-socialist thing. Um, so what?

    I also suspect that Tata knows that the market is only going to grow, and most likely not only with the middle class. I suspect that the production of this car only after the development of a large middle class is not a coincidence.

    From documentaries I’ve seen on the changes in India, there is a tremendous pent-up desire to acquire material wealth in all classes. The now reachable washing machine and a TV antenna is a sign of status in the slums. Sure, but TVs don’t cost $2500 bucks.

    There’s a reason you don’t regularly see news about train derailments and ferry capsizings in US environs, but not so in the subcontintent. Obviously. That reason is because American trains and ferries are safer than Indian trains and ferries. Just as American cars are safer than Nanos.

  35. These guys are also working on a car that runs on compressed air and has no emissions.

    It can get about 125 miles per tank of air, can reaach speeds of about 70mph, and they use the cold air-exhaust as a A/C

    Check it here:

  36. India’s middle class is bigger than the population of the entire United States. I hope they get to the point where traffic fatalities outstrip deaths that result from poverty.

    Trains versus cars? Uh, huh. I’m still not moving to the urban centers, joe. When you talk like this, you scare me ?

    Of course, if you were talking about a giant network of pneumatic tubes, for safely moving people and cargo, well, that’s another story.

  37. ChicagoTom –
    Oh no! Not another individually-owned vehicle option! The horror of technological innovation! Curse our big brains!

  38. Not so much with over-stressed public transport and 2-wheelers.

    If you are serious about such cars becoming a common form of transport for the populations of Bangalore and New Dehli, you’re talking about enormous investments in highways. The public policy question is going to be whether to spend this money on roads or on making that transit less overcrowded and safer.

    If the vast difference in death rates between American transit and American roadways is comparable to the difference between Indian transit and Indian roadways filled with Nanos, then spending that money to accommodate the cars, thereby incentivizing even more car use and development along new highways that we’re so familiar with, is going to increase fatality rates.

    Like I said above, it’s not the availability of the cars that’s the problem, but the highway-depedent, must-drive-everywhere pattern of development (car-heavy vs. car-lite). By all means, it’s good for these cars to be available to Indians who want them, but this will not make a meaningful dent in the transportation needs of India’s poor; and if public policy and investment follows the spread of middle-class car ownership in India the way it did in the United States, it will come at the cost of the much-more useful investments in public transit, both in terms of the people served and the lives saved.

  39. Sure, but TVs don’t cost $2500 bucks.

    Mine does 🙁

  40. Pro Lib,

    I hope they get to the point where traffic fatalities outstrip deaths that result from poverty. Me, too. Widespread car ownership among India’s middle class will increase the former (espcially if these cars are driven at 60 mph on freeways) and do nothing about the latter. Why on earth do you think that the two are related, except in the “damns socialist conspiracies kill poor people,” John Birch sort of way?

    When you talk like this, you scare me Yep, that’s what I thought. You got me; I’m worried about public investment in India going towards highways because trains make it easier to bring peole to the gulag. *rolls eyes*

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter where you move. The urban poor in India already live in urban areas.

  41. Pair this kind of vehicle with car sharing networks and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, and you’ve got that “post-auto” design Mr. Rose wants.

    http://www.flexcar.com/
    http://www.zipcar.com/

    Compressed air cars are cool if you can figure out a way to compress that air without burning fossil fuel.

  42. Greenish, translated:

    Anything that assumes the contiued usevoluntary individual choice of the automobile as the principal mode of transport is retro in the extreme.

  43. You think people who can only afford a moped are going to have $2500 lying around?

    No, but the question should be whether E-Z credit terms are available.

  44. Expanded rail networks and service represent the expansion of individuals’ mobility options, too.

    Let’s poll 1 million poor people in India, and ask if their mobility problems will be better served by more public transit, or by a $2500 car.

    I’m betting 999,500 to 500 in favor of the trains.

  45. 1. Too busy designing new weapons for US military on a cost plus basis paid out by tax funds (lookin’ at you carrick).

    I’ve been an engineer for 22 years and have never worked on a weapon. And I’ve only had a few minor brushes with any kind of military development during a brief spell of doing R&D for situation awareness systems.

  46. RC Dean,

    Sorry, but the choice of transportation options is also largely controlled by collective decisions like whether or not to invest in public transportation or a highway, whether to zone for parking spaces or pedestrian neighborhoods, whether to build up or build out.

    An individual’s choices are constrained by the environment in which they live. Mr. Rose’s point was about which kinds of decisions groups should be making about that shared environment…not about the choices of individuals.

  47. Many of the poor in the United States can’t afford cars even with E-Z credit. Income inequality is even greater in India than in the United States.

    So why assume that poor people in India would be able to buy these cars?

    Oh, right, “translations from greenish.”

  48. I still don’t really see why this would not meet safety standards in the US when we allow motorcycles on highway. (I am NOT arguing against motorcycles, I am arguing FOR the Nano in the US)

  49. First Little Pig,

    This car would face the same regulatory barriers that have kept electric cars off the highways. Once a car goes at highway speeds, it is required to meet automobile safety regulations. This is expensive to demonstrate. As a result, most electric cars have stayed street legal only on city streets, with speed limited to around 30 mph.

    Greens have complained about this regulatory barrier for a good while now. Despite what RC Dean will tell you, most greens oppose centralized decision making that dampens innovation.

  50. I still don’t really see why this would not meet safety standards in the US when we allow motorcycles on highway.

    Imagine the first incident where a giga-SUV driven by asoccer-mom flattens a Nano and kills a family of four.

    People cannot be allowed to assess risk and make their own choices . . . for god’s sake, it’s for the children.

  51. First Little Pig-
    Haven’t you figured this out yet? Decisions on your own personal safety are not yours to make. Our wise and powerful leaders are there for that. They know what is best, truly they do. Go back to sleep. Sleeeeeep.

  52. As a result, most electric cars have stayed street legal only on city streets, with speed limited to around 30 mph.

    This, btw, only limits their usefulness in areas where public investment and regulation has produced regions that require you to drive on large, highway-like roads; ie, sprawl.

  53. joe,

    That is, of course, true…but given our current infrastructure, electric cars on the highway are better than the current choice.

  54. Among those “safety” laws imposed by central planners are roadway standards designed to make it possible for a drunk to keep his car in the lane without ever stepping on a brake or putting more than one finger on the steering wheel. These designs, ironically, create roadways that are extremely hazardous to pedestrians, and to those using vehicles like the Nano.

  55. Many of the poor in the United States can’t afford cars even with E-Z credit. Income inequality is even greater in India than in the United States.

    Compare modern India with 1930’s USA for an apples-to-apples comparison. More poor could not afford cars in 1930’s USA than can’t afford them today. The difference being access to capital.

    I’m not suggesting India would follow the exact same growth pattern, but you’re doing an awful lot of projecting to suggest that poor people in India don’t have a desire for cars. Their immediate desire might be for better bus service, but their long term desire would be for as much transportation independence as possible.

  56. Tatas — what’s not to like?

    The Zip car is pretty much a joke, and a hazard to other traffic, at least the electric model that my neighbor has — it slows to a walking pace on hills, and we don’t have big hills here.

    Episiarch: Get ready for Apple to sue these guys for using “Nano”.

    The term “Nano” wasn’t invented by Apple; it’s an existing scientific prefix meaning a billionth. Thus they can’t copyright it any more than they could “Mega.”

  57. India’s Tata Motors unveiled

    I like to unveil Indian Ta-tas…yummy

  58. That reason is because American trains and ferries are safer than Indian trains and ferries.

    No, the reason is that we have an infrastructure that can support the demand, by and large. India does not and people see no problem with stuffing a train or a boat with 300% over capacity.

    So, what, are the moped drivers just supposed to wait for the public transportation fairy to come down and wave his magic wand or can they jusy get on with their lives with what is realistic?

    Just as American cars are safer than Nanos.

    Big surprise. “You there, who has nothing to begin with….Here’s 2 models of cars. One is much safer and costs 2-3 times as much as the less safe one. I’ll give you a minute to think it over.”

    Yeah, less safe now. Give them a couple years and a few trillions dollars in wealth. The expectations will change.

    Wow, you really are banging away at the anti-socialist thing. Um, so what?

    The socialist policies are what created the moped and road mess to begin with. Whaddya say we give the ol’ free market a whack at it. Maybe they’ll go ahead and acually build some paved roads to go with it and not condemn the populace to the prospect of riding on the roof of the train to get somewhere outside the city.

    C’mon joe, let them have a taste of the 20th century.

  59. I should think that, given a few additional safety features and small adjustments that a car like this selling in the US would be very successful at, say, $4500 (especially if it came with any sort of warranty).
    Most Americans don’t need the giant vehicles they drive 98% of the time anyway.

  60. From the Green party platform:
    Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

  61. Actually, 1930s America was the most income-equal period in its history.

    you’re doing an awful lot of projecting to suggest that poor people in India don’t have a desire for cars. I defy you to find anywhere I said this. I wrote that they cannot afford them, and that they consider transportation choices they can afford better than those they cannot. You, sir, are doing the projecting here.

    My longtime desire is to nail Brigit Moynihan. Were I to create a getting laid policy for myself, It would probably be a bad idea to put all my eggs in that particular basket.

  62. Get ready for Apple to sue these guys for using “Nano”.

    Why did you think it doesn’t have a radio?

    If it could play music, that would be a trademark violation.

  63. JW,

    acually build some paved roads to go with it

    Socialist.
    Publicly funded roads…

    There is nothing preventing private roads in India. The free market for roads has failed the Indian people.

    /sarcasm

  64. “C’mon joe, let them have a taste of the 20th century.”
    Ah, Reinmoose, we all know that the modern, advanced world is full of the evilness. Better they should stay undeveloped, for their own good and Gaia’s.

  65. From the Green party platform:
    Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

    That really sounds nice. Too bad they don’t mean a word of it, except the “as much as possible” part.

    “I thought this was all you can eat?” “It’s all I say you can eat.”

  66. should think that, given a few additional safety features and small adjustments that a car like this selling in the US would be very successful at, say, $4500 (especially if it came with any sort of warranty).

    http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/

    Closer to $10,000

  67. My bad, meant JW instead of Reinmoose.

  68. The term “Nano” wasn’t invented by Apple; it’s an existing scientific prefix meaning a billionth. Thus they can’t copyright it any more than they could “Mega.”

    If the car plays mp3 or aac files – than all bets are off.

  69. that’s right, your ‘bad’
    *scowls*

  70. Get ready for Apple to sue these guys for using “Nano”.

    They certainly weren’t overtaxing the creativity of the marketing people at Tata. Maybe that is why the car is so cheap.

  71. JW,

    You are right, of course.

    Greens don’t mean it when the talk about their guiding principles anymore than libertarians do when they talk about theirs.

    People suck.

  72. Hey Ron, why don’t you add comparison data for the late, mostly-unlamented Trabant car?

  73. “Tata.” Good name for a car. I’ll take two.

  74. JW,

    No, the reason is that we have an infrastructure that can support the demand, by and large. By “trains and ferries,” I meant to refer to the systems in their entirety, just as I have been discussing Nanos-on-highways. Just to be clear. But yes, India’s transit infrastructure is overtaxed. I’m the guy arguing that expanding it would be a good idea, and a boon for safety, remember?

    So, what, are the moped drivers just supposed to wait for the public transportation fairy to come down and wave his magic wand or can they jusy get on with their lives with what is realistic? No, they should wait for the money fairy to give them a Nano, and the highway fairy to give them a highway. And make sure the money fairy only visits their house, and not their neighbors.

    If I write “it is good for this option to be availble” a fourth time, can we dispense with this boring strawman? Because it would be a lot more fun to see responses to the points I make, rather than those nasty socialists that live in your head.

    The socialist policies are what created the moped and road mess to begin with. One you would expand by building more roads and filling them with more cars, rather than rail, for reasons that have nothing to do with transit expansion.

    BTW, transit is a 20th century phenomenon, too, and much more modern than roadbuilding.

  75. If you go through the entire thead, you will not find a single comment by Razorwolfe which contains any content about transportation..

    But damn is good at hating people.

  76. I’ll be here all the week. Try the veal. 😉

  77. Sorry, but the choice of transportation options is also largely controlled by collective decisions like whether or not to invest in public transportation or a highway, whether to zone for parking spaces or pedestrian neighborhoods, whether to build up or build out.

    Sure, sure. But those collective decisions are pretty meaningless if they don’t respond to the desires/choices of individuals. You can “collectively” decide all you want to build light rail, but in this country it will be massively underutilized even while the highways you “collectively” decided to underinvest in are congested as hell, because most people would rather drive than ride a train most of the time.

    The level of social engineering necessary to force most people off of their desire to live in a house and drive around is pretty extraordinary in this country.

    Actually, 1930s America was the most income-equal period in its history.

    Proving that income equality does not correlate with social well-being.

  78. I’m the guy arguing that expanding it would be a good idea, and a boon for safety, remember?

    While JW is the guy insisting that India not spend money to expand its transit infrastructure. And let’s think about revealed preference and efficiency as they relate to rail cars at 300%. If they are that full, that means that people’s transit needs are being met by rail along that line. In order to better meet this demand, no new rail line would need to be built, just the addition of rail cars on the existing routes. Everybody who thinks that a rail car that seats 100 people costs as much as 100 Nanos plus a new roadway, please raise your hand.

  79. If I write “it is good for this option to be availble” a fourth time, can we dispense with this boring strawman? Because it would be a lot more fun to see responses to the points I make, rather than those nasty socialists that live in your head.

    It would be great if you would stop redlining all of India and stop pretending that you know all these people that you’ve never met financial situations.

    It would would be real nice if you stopped looking at this as a zero-sum game and think that for a moment that, gosh, maybe they can have both cars and public transport investment.

    Even though the investment has been jack and squat.

  80. But those collective decisions are pretty meaningless if they don’t respond to the desires/choices of individuals.

    You mean the individuals who pile into rail cars at 3X their capacity, becasue those trains take them where they want to go? Yes, by all means, India should allow their desicions about public investment to be guilded by the reveled prefernce of their commuters.

    Of course, the answer is “but they don’t have another option.” Note how this logic is not applied to people living in areas without transit.

    Everywhere that transit has been supplied and development allowed to occur in a transit-oriented manner, the result has been the transit-oriented city. It is only the ban on such development that leads to transit being spurned.

    The level of social engineering necessary to force most people off of their desire to live in a house and drive around is pretty extraordinary in this country. We’re talking about India, and whether its transportation investment should go towards socially-engineering in the form of sprawl, or the making the existing systems work better.

  81. RC Dean,

    You have an interesting understanding of the history or transportation in the US.

    In 1949, a Federal Grand Jury in Chicago found GM, Standard Oil, and Firestone guilty of having criminally conspired to replace electric transit systems in 45 cities with buses, and to monopolize sale of buses and related products. Ultimately, GM was fined $5,000, and its treasurer was fined $1.

    My favorite fictional treatment of the issue
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Framed_Roger_Rabbit

  82. joe –
    don’t feed the trolls 🙂

  83. Greens have complained about this regulatory barrier for a good while now. Despite what RC Dean will tell you, most greens oppose centralized decision making that dampens innovation.

    Most greens are in favor of massive government intervention to achieve their goals. Sure, they oppose the odd bit of regulation that frustrates them, but to say that they are opposed to centralized decision-making generally is risible.

    I feel pretty safe making a blanket statement that here is no aspect of the green agenda that can be achieved without a Total State. Green goals by definition are society-wide or even global, because a few people giving up their evil materialistic ways won’t really affect what they see as ecologic decline and disaster. Everyone (or damn near) has to live a green lifestyle for the planet to be saved, and the only way for that to happen is for the Total State to make it so. Anyone who tells you otherwise is fooling themselves.

  84. Everybody who thinks that a rail car that seats 100 people costs as much as 100 Nanos plus a new roadway, please raise your hand.

    Everyone that thinks 5 seats on a train has as much utility as 5 seats in a car and a road that has more uses than just delivering people, raise your hand.

  85. RC Dean,

    Those are some bold statements.

    Total State, yeah, that is what all those lefty anarchists want, the total state.

    I have not read a less serious statement in weeks…did you get that one from Glenn Beck?

  86. JW,

    You don’t know the definition of the word redlining.

    I don’t think you know the definition of revealed preference, either.

    It would would be real nice if you stopped looking at this as a zero-sum game and think that for a moment that, gosh, maybe they can have both cars and public transport investment.

    Dude, learn to read.

    joe | January 10, 2008, 10:26am | #

    Cars are very useful appliances, Mr. Rose. Even the residents of the most walkable, transit-oriented communties will have a use for them.

    joe | January 10, 2008, 12:10pm | #

    Like I said above, it’s not the availability of the cars that’s the problem, but the highway-depedent, must-drive-everywhere pattern of development (car-heavy vs. car-lite). By all means, it’s good for these cars to be available to Indians who want them

  87. Everyone who thinks trains are limited to moving people raise their hand.

  88. joe, I wasn’t talking about Indian transportation, I was talking about American transportation.

    Everywhere that transit has been supplied and development allowed to occur in a transit-oriented manner, the result has been the transit-oriented city.

    IOW, everywhere that the state has prohibited any kind of development that is antithetical to mass transportation, the result has been a transit-oriented city.

    See my above comment about massive social engineering.

  89. Progress is seeing the relationship between the car and the way settlements have been designed, recognizing its dysfunctional nature and coming up with a holistic blueprint for post-automobile design.

    Peace, love, Bobby Sherman, man.

  90. Having actually ridden Indian government-run railroads, I believe that most Indians would choose another form of transport if it were available. I can also say from my experience that the Indian government has (1) not properly priced the tickets (hence excessive demand) and/or (2) have severely under-invested in the system.

    Of course, neither outcome is surprising when you consider that it is a government run operation. So why not privatize the railroads and the roads and see which form of transport Indians will actually choose?

    BTW, I will be taking Amtrak tomorrow to DC.

  91. But is it as much fun to drive as a ’60’s [real] Mini?

  92. NM –
    Are you a Green?
    I’ve always wondered where your stances on things came from. Is this it?

  93. Total State, yeah, that is what all those lefty anarchists want, the total state.

    Hey, I addressed the lefty Green anarchist position. Didn’t you see the sentence about people who are fooling themselves?

  94. Everybody who thinks that a rail car that seats 100 people costs as much as 100 Nanos plus a new roadway, please raise your hand.

    So, Joe, what’s the actual cost of a new 100-passenger rail car? Towed, not self-propelled, of course.

    You can’t just keep on adding cars to a train — for one thing the length of the car cannot exceed the length of the shortest platform servicing the train. Also, the train would have to fit onto existing sidings.

    And let’s think about revealed preference and efficiency as they relate to rail cars at 300%.

    I’m thinking about the revealed safety of people hanging onto the outside of the rail cars to acheive that 300% figure. I also suspect that the revealed preference is that the hangers-on are not fare paying passengers.

  95. Reinmoose,

    JW isn’t a troll. He’s arguing in good faith. Just not very well.

    For example, when he writes Everyone that thinks 5 seats on a train has as much utility as 5 seats in a car and a road that has more uses than just delivering people, raise your hand., he actually thinks he’s making a point, rather than demonstrating that he doesn’t realize that a transportation option’s utility depends on the infrastructure available to serve it and the development patterns of the places is goes.

    JW, five seats on a train are rougly 200 times for useful in New Dehli than five seats in a private automobile.

  96. Reinmoose,

    Me, a green?

    Politically I am a moderate, centrist, pragmatist…independent.

    I do, however, think that environmental issues are not given the level of attention that they deserve.

    My position on environmental solutions align with these folks.

    http://www.rmi.org/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turning_Point_%28Book%29

  97. *trots out from under the bridge and sits down*

    I’ve only been sniping because this thread, as have so many others has devolved into the same people yelling past each other in their tired and worn out ruts. The Nano is an achievement for a country growing and attempting to build itself up . It will not magically transform the place, nor throw it under the bus. Developing countries are going to have to go through many of the growing pains that developed nations did. They can, if they wish, look to the developed nations for either guidance or things to avoid, but stating in no uncertain terms ‘what is best for India’ is not our place, and arguing about it seems silly.

  98. Clearly, Neu Mejican, disagreeing with Adolph Hitler’s ideas about auto ownership and highway investment demonstrates a passion for the Total State. Didn’t you get the memo?

  99. tangentially related but interesting “green” vehicle:
    http://www.aptera.com/

    (Neu Mejican and First Little pig check out the link for interesting approach to car v.s motorcycle safety regulations. Joe, maybe this goes along with your car-lite concept):

  100. I defy you to find anywhere I said this.

    Here it is: I’m betting 999,500 to 500 in favor of the trains.

    Actually, 1930s America was the most income-equal period in its history.

    I didn’t mean that in terms of income equality, I meant it in terms of lower-classes access to credit.

  101. RC, you shouldn’t write posts about things you don’t know about, becasue you end up making factually-incorrect statements like, IOW, everywhere that the state has prohibited any kind of development that is antithetical to mass transportation, the result has been a transit-oriented city.

    I said “allowed” becasue I meant “allowed.” The zoning laws that governed the areas that have been built in a sprawling style were much more stringent than those that governed cities.

    If you think developers put 10 houses on 5 acres instead of 25 because they want to, you should have a conversation with a developer sometime.

  102. NM –
    Ok, ok. I was just wondering.

    Joe –
    yeah, you’re right. I misused the term. What I really meant to imply is that you’re not really going to get anywhere by arguing with him.

  103. Lurker A,

    Yep, those motorcycle cars are a nice way around the car regulations.

    There are a few options on the road.

  104. Reinmoose,

    NM -Ok, ok. I was just wondering.

    No problem, I was just answering.

  105. http://www.go-t-rex.com/

    Is another motorcycle car, but with a hefty price tag.

  106. Tonio,

    True about the need to put an engine on every few dozen new railcars. Nonetheless, rolling stock on existing railbeds comes up much lower per seat. It is even slightly cheaper if you have to build the railbed vs the road. I don’t have the figures handy, but I’ve seen them. The added value of road/auto transportation is the expanded directional options, which, once again, is dependent on how dispersed the desired destinations are.

    As for the ‘revealed safety,’ I’m the guy who wants to provide more inside seating for those crowded passengers, remember?

  107. Russ 2000:

    Here it is: I’m betting 999,500 to 500 in favor of the trains. BZZZZZTTTTT!!!!!!!

    My statement included the phrase “that they can afford…vs…that they cannot afford.”

    Yours is devoid of any refernce to cost.

    I’ll give you a D for partial credit, but that’s not a passing grade.

    I didn’t mean that in terms of income equality, I meant it in terms of lower-classes access to credit. Ah, I didn’t get that.

  108. And what about the 1985 Yugo?

    You compare the Nano to the Model T. If it is reliable and competitive, a fair comparison. The Bug? Ditto. The Yugo? Only if the Nano is a piece of canine manure that you would only let your worst enemy drive does the Yugo comparison makes sense. Comparing a car that I manufactured to a Yugo would bring on a defamation lawsuit. And you’d lose. 😉

  109. Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we “non-interventionist” libertarians practice what we preach, mind our own fucking business, and let the Indians do whatever they think is best for them? There are so many basic differences between India and the USA that most of what I’m reading here is either irrelevant or stuck in fantasyland.

    As to whether I’d drive a Nano in the USA? Fuck no. I’d be just as safe on a motorcycle and look a hell of a lot cooler.

  110. Ah, I didn’t get that.

    Obviosuly.

  111. *Buys ChrisO an adult beverage.*

  112. Joe,

    Still waiting for you to state the price of a one-hundred passenger railcar, with info sufficient to allow verification.

    True about the need to put an engine on every few dozen new railcars.

    Er, no, I didn’t say anything about locomotives. I wrote “the length of the car train cannot exceed the length of the shortest platform servicing the train.” If the train is longer than the shortest platform, that creates boarding problems: either passengers must traverse one or more cars to reach a car not directly boardable from the platform, or the train must be moved to allow the extra cars to be directly boarded from the platform.

    All this, plus my comment about sidings, was to reveal that increasing passenger rail capacity is not as easy as simply adding railcars — there are infrastucture concerns.

  113. Busses and trains for the impoverished masses of India? How about get the government out of it and watch cheap, reliable jitney transport fill the gaps in a week. Soon you will have large jitney operations with schedules, transfers, and labor issues. Those who live in the sticks will be screwed but that is no different with trains and busses.

  114. I’m sorry, but to the some fellas here who think that we’re deciding what to tell India is best for them… what?
    This is a discussion about the world’s cheapest car and the possible effects of it.

  115. JW, five seats on a train are rougly 200 times for useful in New Dehli than five seats in a private automobile.

    In the middle of New Dehli, yes. Outside New Dehli, proabably not. I like that I can go places a train cannot and not having to worry about schedules or tickets. It goves me other options. Is that in your utility formula?

    demonstrating that he doesn’t realize that a transportation option’s utility depends on the infrastructure available to serve it and the development patterns of the places is goes.

    Ya think that the infrastructure has a role in it? Huh, go figure. Too bad most of India’s infrastructure is under-invested and in disrepair, both roads and trains.

    Maybe the now-driving middle class will clamor for better roads, since the trains have been such a dismal failure for them.

  116. You’re going to be waiting a long time, Tonio. I don’t do people’s homework for them. I know the answer, I’ve seen the figures, that’s good enough for me.

    Towed, not self-propelled, of course. If this is not a point about having to provide engines, well, it should have been. Because, as you say, the limitations provided by platform length (and power of existing engines) would require at least some of the expanded service to be provided through entire new trains.

    You are also correct that there would likely be infrastructure upgrades as well – just not as much as providing a freeway system from scratch, which would be necessary to get enough people off the trains to make a dent in the overcrowding.

  117. I would like to have motorized roller skates.
    Anyone working on that?

  118. I would like to have motorized roller skates.
    Anyone working on that?

    Virtual reality will make most transportation issues moot within the next 50 years.

  119. JW,

    In the middle of New Dehli, yes. Outside New Dehli, proabably not. That depends on where people are going outside of New Dehli.

    I like my car, too, because there is no train to the supermarket. However – and this is the important part – in countries without a highway system, the places that have a large number of people going to them are already accessible to those without cars. The market in the village is within walking distance, the commercial district in the city is on the rail line.

    Now, this still leaves a lot of utility to be provided via a cheap car. As I’ve said. A whole bunch of times already. There isn’t really any disagreement about that. The open question isn’t whether it would be smart to make investments intended to alleviate the overcrowded transit system by expanding that system, or by providing a highway systemm to replace it.

    Too bad most of India’s infrastructure is under-invested and in disrepair, both roads and trains. Yet another reason not to make the investments necessary for private automobiles useful for mass transportation needs.

    Maybe the now-driving middle class will clamor for better roads, since the trains have been such a dismal failure for them. And, as all anti-transit arguments end up, fuck the poor.

  120. the places that have a large number of people going to them are already accessible to those without cars. should be “the places that have a large number of people going to them are already accessible to those without highways.

  121. JW,

    Too bad most of India’s infrastructure is under-invested and in disrepair, both roads and trains.

    Socialist[/snark]

  122. The Nano is out of the box. If the Nano finds a market and sells, then it may cause some form of shift in infrastructure. If some would rather see a different shift in infrastructure, that is all well and good and a great way to spend energy on ‘well, they shoulds.” But Indian consumers will make the choice, as it should be.

  123. And I ‘should’ed myself. LOL

  124. Because the existing transportation system is underfunded, we should steer funds that could to reparing and expanding it towards building a new transportation system.

    The great part about this is that it is a lot more efficient to maintain 3 transportation systems (transit, local roads, and highways) than two, so we can be confident that the highway system will not be under-capitalized.

  125. If 5% of Indians buy cars and want an expanded roadway sytem, and the rest don’t buy cars and want better transit, what should the government do?

    What if the split is 20/80? 40/60?

    The answer, in all cases, is “whatever will allow the greatest number of people to get where they’re going with the available funds.”

  126. And, as all anti-transit arguments end up, fuck the poor.

    You got an anti-transit argument out of that? I’m the one with imaginary people in my head? I only positied chicken and egg.

    My only beef with Indian trains is that they serve the public so poorly. Which is why I’m glad that less wealthy Indians will now have another option with the Nano.

  127. grr…preview. “posited” not positied.

  128. I got an anti-transit statement out of your objection to spending transportation funds on transit, yes.

    Look, we might be talking past each other. The cars, all by themselves, provide more options to Indians, and that’s great. They build upon the existing transportation options to make the sum total of options better. You can take the train to the city, or you can walk to the market, or you can drive to the market.

    But for cars to provide another option for the routes now served by overcrowded trains and buses (in many cases), the cars are not enough. India would have to make massive investments in a new roadway system, because as you say, the existing roads are baredly adequate for their current use.

    Spending that money on a highway system means taking it out the transit system, and that would be incredibly inefficient and unwise in a country where the existing transit system is undercapitalized and overcrowded.

  129. And a Nano would cost around $4,700 in 1985 dollars.

    From the inflation adjustment link: What cost $2500 in 2006 would cost $1336.13 in 1985.

    Add a back seat and i’m sold.

    It’s a four door, so I assume it has a backseat.

  130. Many of the poor in the United States can’t afford cars even with E-Z credit. Income inequality is even greater in India than in the United States. So why assume that poor people in India would be able to buy these cars?

    Has there EVER been an invention or innovation that was immediately affordable to the poorest segments of society? No; first the rich and middle classes get it, and then it trickles down to the poor. That’s why my underpaid self can still afford a cell phone, central heating, indoor plumbing and a CD player in my car.

  131. When doing these cost-comparisons, keep in mind that cars require periodic infusions of gasoline. The vastly better mileage of the Nano will, over the life of the car, produce much greater savings even than the initial cost.

    Jennifer,

    The automobile was invented in the 1890s. The Nano is not the $3000 1980 Betamax. This $2500 car IS the much cheaper later-generation version you’re talking about.

  132. I got an anti-transit statement out of your objection to spending transportation funds on transit, yes.

    I never objected to that, at least not intentionally. I’m rushing posting since I’m at work and should be doing other things.

    Spending that money on a highway system means taking it out the transit system, and that would be incredibly inefficient and unwise in a country where the existing transit system is undercapitalized and overcrowded.

    If an either-or situation, then I would agree with you, but there is nothing preventing the Indian govt from spending more on both. Perhaps with the economic opportunities that greater car ownership can bring, the money will be there. If not, the car owners will more than likly exert political pressure to do so. And just like here in the U.S., they can argue with the public transit people about it there too.

    Look, we might be talking past each other.

    I agree. I think we have for the bulk of the thread.

  133. Reinmoose–Where do you get off with that statement? Like everyone else here, I have strongly held beliefs and argue in favor of them, but as far as I can recall, you and I have never bumped heads on anything.

    I know my mind can be changed with a persuassive argument. Hell, I’m here so infrequently, I’m not even sure why you would come to that conclusion that it can’t.

  134. If an either-or situation, then I would agree with you, but there is nothing preventing the Indian govt from spending more on both.

    Good point, JW. The same economic growth that created a middle class and made this car possible could be used to both improve the existing transportation system and build a new one. I wish we’d thought of that in the 20th century!

  135. a holistic blueprint for post-automobile design

    It’s called “Manhattan”.

  136. Let’s poll 1 million poor people in India, and ask if their mobility problems will be better served by more public transit, or by a $2500 car.

    Hmmm…..good idea. Tata Motors is commencing such a poll right now.

  137. I call BS on Joe who wrote @11:15: “Everybody who thinks that a rail car that seats 100 people costs as much as 100 Nanos plus a new roadway, please raise your hand.” And who has refused two challenges to state the cost of a hundred-passenger railcar.

    No, Joe, stating the cost of the railway car isn’t doing my homework for me, it was an opportunity for you to prove that you aren’t just making stuff up. But thanks for being on the show, and enjoy your year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni(r).

  138. Where do you get off with that statement?

    I don’t know. It could have been that you seemed to willfully ignore the content of joe’s comments. It is usually the case that arguing with someone is futile when you have to go back up the thread to re-post what you actually said.

    My appologies if I offended

  139. I’m sorry, but to the some fellas here who think that we’re deciding what to tell India is best for them… what?
    This is a discussion about the world’s cheapest car and the possible effects of it.

    It may have started off that way, but I’m seeing an inordinate amount of discussion of the Indian transportation network. The possible effects of the Nano? Those mopeds spew out far more noxious crap than the Nano, I’m sure. But perhaps Indians are more willing to live with polluted cities if the tradeoff is prosperity and mobility, which they currently have less of than we do.

  140. It’s called “Manhattan”.

    And as it would be neither possible nor desireable for everyone to live in such circumstances, the goal needs to be car-lite, not post-automobile.

    Reinmoose, he got much better throughout the thread.

    Tonio, it’s up to you whether you wish to know the answer to that question. And I want Turtle Wax. Cheap rice ain’t gonna shine my Civic!

  141. Public Transportation is generally looked as a necessary evil in India. City Buses are slow, while private buses tend to run over pedestrians and keep on running. Trains are useful but massively overcrowded. Airlines are great, but airport infrastructure is terrible.

    Everyone who can afford a car drives or if they are afraid of dying, they hire a cheap driver for their car. There are practically no environmentally conscious commuters, only people who cannot afford cars.

    The one exception is the Delhi Metro. It is such a good subway system that many wealthy people choose to use it, and if it catches on, could completely change public perceptions of Indian public transport.

  142. The cost of rail infrastructure:

    “Sound Transit yesterday signed a $128 million contract with RCI-Herzog to build the 4.3-mile Rainier Valley segment of Seattle’s 14-mile light rail line.”

    That’s $30 million per mile, not including cost of acquiring the right of way.

    Link: http://www.electricrailroaders.org/swindler/2004_0306-0312.php

    “March 28, 1996–BART officials today joined executives of Amerail in marking the successful completion of the $142 million contract to deliver 80 new BART cars with ceremonies at the BART board of Directors meeting.”

    That’s $1.8 million per car. (BART cars have 72 seats, and carry up to 150 with straphangers.)

    Link: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/BART,+Amerail+Celebrate+Completion+of+New+Car+Contract-a018135517

    These amounts of money will buy a lot of Nanos, or any other cars, even when you factor in the cost of the roads they run on.

    Trains are cool, but expensive, especially if built and run by the state. They do make sense, however, for densely populated corridors.

    I agree with the observations about the effects of personal, individual transport (autos) on urban and suburban design. But people choose to live in suburbs for a variety of reasons relating to overall quality of life, not just the specific factors of fuel and pollution costs.

  143. Joe, a moped or scooter is not much less than $2500. In the US, a name brand scooter can be up to $5000. Consider the 244cc Honda Helix at $4,000, or the 50cc Honda Metropolitan (search ebay)for $1,500. Considering you would need at least two scooters to transport 2-4 people, and still not have much space for cargo, it looks like a wash to me. Actually, no, given what little utility you get in a $1,500 scooter, the car looks cheaper at $2,500.

  144. Ah, but consider that the rail cars will be less expensive in India, just as the Nanos are. If we are to do apples-to-apples, then the 100 passenger railcar’s cost you cite must be compared to the cost of 100 American cars, not 100 Nanos.

    Then we must cost of highways – say $5-10 million per mile over flat, undeveloped ground.

    And then consider that, since we’re talking about cities, there will be acquisition costs for each that involve condemning swathes of developed land, or building elevated structures.

    And then consider that a rail r.o.w. would be maybe 20-30 feet, while a six-lane highway would be perhaps 200-400 feet.

    Finally, I’ll not that the quality of life question must be looked at in terms of the subjective (what kind of neighborhoods and housing do I like) as well as the object (clearn, safe, good schools). Most of the difference in the objective criteria in the United States is not inherent to the different building patterns, but is the result of cities being undercapitalized and suburbs being heavily capitalized.

  145. bigbigslacker

    The cost of high-end scooters/mopeds in the American market vs. the Indian Nano is apples and oranges.

  146. Either compare American mopeds and American cars, or scooters in India to the Nano.

  147. Let me guess: they’re illegal in the United States because they don’t meet safety standards.

    Thus, Congress is annually killing hundreds if not thousands of people currently riding motorcycles who can’t afford a Yaris but could afford a Nano.

    Automobile safety regulations kill people. Counterintuitive, but true.

  148. Nue–Maybe the Greens actually believe that statement, but it clashes greatly with nearly every instance where a Greenie has put forth a proposal to deal with issue X.

    Over time, their actions have placed them duly in the collectivist catagory, at least around these parts it has. I have seen little evidence to show a concern for individual choice. And no, I can’t give you a specific example; this is from recollections.

    If you have incidents that you could show me to be different than that, I’d be receptive.

    /threadjack

  149. MD wrote: That’s $1.8 million per car. (BART cars have 72 seats, and carry up to 150 with straphangers.)

    Thanks, MD.

    That, Joe, is how one backs up one’s assertions with facts.

    And Joe, before you do a little victory dance, please consider that a BART railcar is way more ‘spensive than the Indian railcars we were discussing earlier. BART, and other light rail / subway / metro cars are self-propelled electic cars each with it’s own controls, motor, brakes, etc. AFAIK, Indian inter-city passenger railway coaches are towed by the locomotive (like a trailer, ie not self-propelled).

  150. Uh, Tonio, I just made that point. The cheaper Indian railcars undermines your argument, and supports mine.

  151. Another point of information: Scooters and Mopeds are similar, but ultimately different.

    Mopeds are motorized bicycles, and thus can be pedal-propelled like a conventional bicycle. Generally, mopeds have really small engines (think chainsaw sized). Regulatorily (sorry, guys) they count as bicycles — ie, no license requirement.

    Scooters are true, but small motorcycles, ie no pedal power. Most jurisdictions classify scooters as motorcycles with the attendant licensure and registration requirements. Some jurisdictions also specify engine size, allowing some low-powered scooters to

    Modern scooter designs like Hondas and Schwinns use low-polluting four-stroke engines. Older scooters, like classic Vespa’s have two-stroke engines which pollute rather more.

    (Hint to Joe: This is how informed people have policy discussions. This lesson FOC as a public service.)

  152. joe,

    you are completly ignoring the fact that greater access by middle class will in very short time evolve to greater access for the poor through the sale of used cars. In the US the used cars outsell new cars by more then 2 to 1 I think. Which means with in a handful of years these cars will be sold used, and their prices will much much more accessible. We will see the emmergence of the “Delhi Special” akin to the “Detroit Special” around here

  153. That’s great, Tonio. The facts still back me up. It was nice of Malto to provide them, but especially nice to me.

    I’m not ignoring it val. That happens in the United States, too, and yet there is a considerable population that still can’t afford cars in the US. And in India, the difference between middle class and urban poor is even greater than here.

  154. Reinmoose–No worries. I wasn’t ignoring joe’s points, just not taking the time I should have before pulling the trigger.

    Meh, I should be working anyway.

  155. Oops, prematurely posted an incomplete sentence @3:07. Paragraph four should have ended:

    Some jurisdictions also specify engine size, allowing some low-powered scooters to be legally operated by unlicensed drivers, and the scooters themselves not registered as motor vehicles.

  156. JW,

    I thought it was a very good discussion.

  157. One further thought: even this small car is going require at least 4X the road space than a scooter. If the cities are overcrowded with scooters now, a one-car-one-scooter replacement is going to be that much worse.

    Perhaps congestion pricing funding transit upgrades is an answer.

  158. joe:“If you’re worried about the transportation needs of India’s urban poor, think rail and bus. A $2500 car is for the middle class and for occupational use in India.

    And im saying that its just as beneficial for India’s urban poor as rail and bus. You implied that no poor person would have $2500 laying around. And people countered that for the lower middle and high lower there is credit available. I also suggested that this will even further trickle down to the very poor through the sale of used cars.

    A wide acceptance and availabilty of cars will also create new opportunities for those poor. Think about the industry/retail/services that revolve around the automobile around here. And while public transit dollars are largely controlled by government and larger corporation. Privately owned cars will leave most of this money in private hands. I dont think you see too many “Crazy Joe’s Bus Wash”‘s around now but in little time you might see “Crazy Joe’s Car Wash and Garage”‘s springing up all over India.

  159. JW,

    where a Greenie has put forth a proposal to deal with issue X.

    The most high profile example would be Al Gore, before Congress, making a proposals to get rid of regulations that were harming innovations in the transportation and fuel sectors.

    Another “greenie” innovation that fits with the distributed solution principle is the fair trade movement, internet networking to distribute DIY solutions to green problems…

    The list is long…

    Unless you define “greenie” as “socialist.” When you do that, then socialist solutions are the only ones you count as coming from the “greenies.”

    Confirmation bias, perhaps.

  160. ***And people countered that for the lower-middle and higher-low class there is credit available.

    -must learn to preview

  161. And JW,

    I’ll again point out the Rocky Mountain Institute.

    A “greenie” organization that has been offering solutions to environmental problems for 3 decades.

    Check out their website to determine if they believe in distributed solutions to environmental problems.

    Or read the book they put out that is a primary text for the modern green movement.
    http://www.natcap.org/

  162. JW,

    An example from the Green party itself…

    http://www.gp.org/mainstreet/

  163. “Either compare American mopeds and American cars, or scooters in India to the Nano.”

    Joe, there is little difference in price between here and there. A cheap Chinese scooter in the US is $500. I asked a Laos (“Laotian” for us Americans) guy I work with and he says a cheap Chinese scooter in Laos is, wait for it…..$500. I don’t think India is going to be much different. We often pay slightly less for Asian goods than people from other Asian countries, due to volume and taxation issues. Computer parts being one example (this story is recent, but this was true even when the dollar was stronger):

    http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/12/06/the_worlds_best_hardware_prices/

    The cheap Chinese scooter is likely to see a maximum life of 10,000 miles. The $2,500 car will last…well, I don’t know, but its likely to be many times the longevity of the People’s Central Scooter Manufacturing Co. scooter.

    The guy who told me about the scooter in Laos saw the same story we are discussing. He’s hoping to be able to buy one for his dad in Laos, and expecting to pay $3,000 with import duties.

  164. Well, at the risk of being off topic now, I like the TaTa Nano. Then again, I’m a sucker for small cars. I only recently sold a ’98 Chevy Metro…it’s also a cheap car ($8900 new) that comfortably fits 4 and gets 50+ mpg. It has 3 cylinders and 49 HP (and A/C, AM/FM Cassette), so it was like the luxury sports coupe version of the Nano. I would have kept it but I couldn’t get past the feeling I was a sitting duck to all the land-barges on the road.

  165. Wait a minute… last sentence of the article.

    If a Nano costs $2500 today, how could it cost $4700 in 1987 dollars?

  166. Safety isn’t a big deal to me. I have no money and I’m a careful and infrequent driver, so I’d take price and fuel efficiency over safety in almost any circumstance.

  167. Nue–When I say “Greenie,” I mean Green Party rep/spokesman. As I said, I haven’t seen anything coming from them that even hints at anything but heavily slanted towards the collective side. They’re “big” (as big as any 3rd party can be) in my area and they are consistently to the left of the self-identified progressives.

    Thanks for the links. I’m familiar with RMI, who has struck me as fairly rational in what I have seen from them.

  168. An example from the Green party itself…

    http://www.gp.org/mainstreet/

    That’s all well and good and I applaud them for, literally, putting their money and mouth together, but “social justice?” “Community-based economics?” C’mon, they might as well be yelling something about throwing off the chains of capitalist oppressors.

  169. As I said, I haven’t seen anything coming from them that even hints at anything but heavily slanted towards the collective side. They’re “big” (as big as any 3rd party can be) in my area and they are consistently to the left of the self-identified progressives.

    The Green Party used to emphasize decentralization and local/community self-government. This was, I think, grounded in a sanguine (utopian?) belief that with the market adjusted to account for the “full costs” of the use of common property, pollution would effectively regulate itself. As I’ve heard told, sometime ago the Green Party was flooded with socialists discontent with the Democratic Party, and the old “decentralization” faction was driven to the margins. ‘Tis ever thus, though.

  170. Wait a minute… last sentence of the article.

    If a Nano costs $2500 today, how could it cost $4700 in 1987 dollars?

    Don’t you remember the massive deflation?

    I caught that earlier. What cost $2500 in 2006 would cost $1336.13 in 1985.

  171. If a Nano costs $2500 today, how could it cost $4700 in 198[5] dollars?

    I caught that earlier. What cost $2500 in 2006 would cost $1336.13 in 1985.

    I did too and realized that he must have multiplied instead of divided (or vice versa). Notice that
    $1336/$2500 ~= $2500/$4700

  172. NAL,

    He switched the beginning and end years and gave us the figure for what you could buy for $2500 in 1985 would cost today.

  173. JW,

    Ah…Greenie is like big “L” libertarian.

    Gotcha.
    I think Hale covers it about correctly…I do think that the Green party is about as representative of self-identifying environmentalists as the Libertarian party is representative of those who self-identify as libertarians or minarchists…which is to say, not very representative.

  174. JW,

    re: “Community-based economics?”

    Well, since I was looking for an example of the Green party supporting distributed/decentralized solutions, this seemed to be an example of what they mean by that.

    It’s the whole “buy local, think global” thing…or “all politics is local.”

    Ron Paul’s message is just the republican version…”leave it up to the states/local government.”

    Just the boogey man is changed.

    Green’s fear big business while libertarians fear the federal government.

    So Green’s want community-based economics while Ron Paul wants community-based governance.

  175. Examples of “greenie” approved capitalism

    http://www.interfaceinc.com/
    http://action.credomobile.com/
    http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/

    The owner of Whole Foods, for what it is worth, self-identifies as a libertarian.

  176. JW,

    Just to beat the dead horse some more…

    throwing off the chains of capitalist oppressors.

    This sounds no worse than the bumper-sticker I read around here…

    Taxation is theft
    Government is violence
    Yadda yadda negative rights yadda yadda distort markets yadda yadda invisible hand.

    Sometimes I feel like a Hindu listening to Baptists explain how Methodists are so misguided.

  177. I asked a Laos (“Laotian” for us Americans)

    So Laos is in Laotia? Since when???

  178. “a holistic blueprint for post-automobile design.”

    Mr.Rose – Why don’t you lead by example: Go live and work in India for a year, and use their public transportation every day.

  179. I’m hoping to get out of United Statesia and visit Laotia some day, if the girlfriend lets me. She’s also from Laotia too and says I might have trouble with women approaching the different looking guy. Sounds fine to me – I can’t figure out what she’s worried about.

    This is from the Laos region of Laotia. This is what I want to go see for myself (already seen many photos from the GF’s last visit)

    http://www.ecotourismlaos.com/activities/act_waterfall.htm

    LOL – “ecotourism”, destroying the planet one trip at a time.

    Just to put his back on topic for a second. The little Nano car would have a hard time navigating the majority of a 4th world country like this. There are areas where it takes 6 hours to drive 20 miles, such are the state of the “roads”

  180. Kewl. You can park nose-in in the parking lane!

    With the SmartCar, you can park NOSE OUT in the parking lane!

    That’s some freaky shit driving past those. I guy BACKING into his parallel parking spot. Not backing in parallel, but backing in perpendicular.

    Looks like you can do the same with this one, too.

  181. So Laos is in Laotia? Since when???

    Utpote nos recolo narro latin.

  182. thanks for the amazing post! Here you can find the list of harmful cars for environment

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