Can the World Handle the World’s Cheapest Car?

Today the Streetsblog Network takes us to India, where some fear the recent launch of the highly-anticipated $2,000 Tata Nano — a.k.a. the "world’s cheapest car" — will wreak havoc on the environment and already crowded public spaces. Hard Drive has the story: 

medium_tata_nano_1.jpg.jpegPhoto via Hard Drive

India’s middle class is on the rise, as is the desire to ape Western
commercialism. As a result, many people still see a car ownership as a
point of pride, a symbol of individual progress, despite growing
problems with air quality and gridlock.

On a recent trip to India, the manager of a tire company told me
many of his neighbors were putting their names into a Nano lottery to
be the first to own their first car. That worried him. "The roads are
beyond capacity now," he said. "How will they hold millions of more
cars?"

Earlier this week, Tata Motors announced its intent to expand into European and US markets. Said company chair Ratan Tata: "This was never conceived as the cheapest car, but as providing transport to those people who never owned a car." You’ve been warned.

Also on the Network: Hub and Spokes reflects on keeping cities like New York affordable; Portland Transport looks into a new transit-timing tool from the makers of Walk Score; a study cited by Bicycle Fixation reveals that bike lanes are good for business; Cap’n Transit checks up on the Red Hook Tunnel Bus; and more. 

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Nano Technology

|
The much-hyped and much-criticized Tata Nano, a car that will hit the Indian market retailing for a mere 100,000 rupees — the equivalent of $2,500 — got a perplexing nod of approval from the Economist newsmagazine last week: Commuting in India’s cities can be both cosy and deadly. Children squeeze snugly between father at the […]

“Do as We Say, Not as We Do” = No Model for Sustainability

|
Traffic in Delhi and Atlanta. Notice which scene also includes bikes. Photos: Ri Co Fo To and silvrayn via Flickr Environmentally-conscious citizens of India aren’t alone in their concern about the rollout of the Tata Nano, the "world’s cheapest car." But in an op-ed piece for Forbes, Projjal Dutta, the director of sustainability initiatives for […]

Delhi Turns to Bike Lanes to Tame World’s Most Dangerous Traffic

|
Space is at a premium on Delhi’s streets. Photo: DaveBleasdale/Flickr Delhi, home to over 12 million people and the seat of India’s national government, is widely considered to have the most dangerous traffic in the world. As the Guardian wrote recently, traffic safety in Delhi basically consists of "good horns, good brakes, good luck." Nationally, […]