Frantz FANON
Paulette NARDAL
Price MARS
Jacques-Stephen ALEXIS
Léon-Gontran DAMAS
Edouard Jacques MAUNICK
Saint-John PERSE
Maximilien LAROCHE
Aude-Emmanuelle HOAREAU



Over the past year, Tata has been building hype for a car that would cost a mere 100,000 rupees (roughly $2,500) and bring automotive transportation to the mainstream Indian population. It has been nicknamed the "People's Car." Over the course of the New Delhi Auto Expo, which began this week, anticipation had grown to fever pitch.
With the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" playing, Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Motors drove the small white bubble car onto Tata's show stage, where it joined two others.

The Tata Nano could sell for around $2,500. (Photo by Raveendran/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)
"They are not concept cars, they are not prototypes," Mr. Tata announced when he got out of the car. "They are the production cars that will roll out of the Singur plant later this year."

The four-door Nano is a little over 10 feet long and nearly 5 feet wide. It is powered by a 623cc two-cylinder engine at the back of the car. With 33 horsepower, the Nano is capable of 65 miles an hour. Its four small wheels are at the absolute corners of the car to improve handling. There is a small trunk, big enough for a duffel bag.

"Today, we indeed have a People's Car, which is affordable and yet built to meet safety requirements and emission norms, to be fuel efficient and low on emissions," Mr. Tata added. "We are happy to present the People's Car to India and we hope it brings the joy, pride and utility of owning a car to many families who need personal mobility."
The base price for the Nano will be 120,000 rupees, including road tax and delivery. Higher level models will cost more and come with air-conditioning. Sun visors and radios are extra.

The nearest priced competitor is the Maruti 800, which costs roughly twice as much as the Nano. In comparing the Nano to the Maruti 800, Mr. Tata said, "It is 8 percent smaller — bumper to bumper — and has 21 percent larger seating capacity than Maruti 800."
The Hindustan Times reports reactions from a couple of Tata's competitors, Maruti and Hyundai:
Jagdish Khattar, a former head of Maruti 800 manufacturer Maruti Udyog Ltd., says it's too early to say whether the Nano will overtake the original.

"It's a good product but it's still too early to say whether it will overtake the 800 because it caters to a totally new market segment," he said while watching a live telecast of Tata's press conference after unveiling of the Nano.

But clearly, at least one other manufacturer was worried.

An official of Hyundai Motors, which unveiled an LPG version of its Santro Thursday, was more circumspect.
"We definitely see it as impacting our sales," he said in halting English, preferring to maintain anonymity.
Anand Mahindra, managing director for Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors' primary competitor, said before the unveiling, "I think it's a moment of history and I'm delighted an Indian company is leading the way."

The Nano will go on sale in India later this year with an initial production run of 250,000 a year. Tata says it will offer the Nano in other emerging markets in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa within four years.

{{Indians Hit the Road Amid the Occasional Elephant}}
_ Published: January 11, 2008

NEW DELHI, Jan. 10 — A few weeks ago, the traditional Indian joint family household of Vineet Sharma, a fertilizer industry consultant, achieved a long deferred dream. Having ferried themselves on scooters all these years, the Sharmas bought a brand-new, silver-grey hatchback known as the Tata Indica.

Never mind that none of the six adult members of the household knew how to drive. No sooner had the car arrived than Mr. Sharma, 34, took it for a spin and knocked over a friend. His brother slammed into a motorcyclist, injuring no one but damaging the bumper and getting so scared that he no longer gets behind the wheel, except on Sundays when the roads are empty.

"We bought it first, and then we thought about driving," Mr. Sharma confessed.

This week, as carmakers from across the world came to Delhi to peddle their wares to a bubbling Indian car market, Mr. Sharma began to think about driving.

He enrolled in a week-long driving course and dived headlong into the madness of the morning commute in a beat-up Maruti 800. Its odometer had long stopped working, and it carried on its roof a sign for the driving school, accompanied, improbably, by the smiling face of the animated movie character, Shrek. He wasn't going very fast anyway. He said he was very nervous.

He had good reason, for his first real foray on four wheels revealed how many hurdles still litter the new Indian romance with the road. Amid a cacophony of horns on the Ring Road, a blood-red sports utility vehicle weaved in between cars, passing Mr. Sharma within a razor's edge on the right. A school bus snuggled close up on his left. No one seemed to care about traffic lanes. Cars bounced in and out of crater-sized potholes.

Indians are rushing headlong to get behind the wheel, as incomes rise, car loans proliferate, and the auto industry churns out low-cost cars to nudge them off their motorcycles. They bought 1.5 million cars last year, and by some estimates India is expected to soar past China this year as the fastest growing car market.

The capital was aflutter with car mania this week, as the biennial Auto Expo opened on Thursday and carmakers, both Indian and foreign, began rolling out the first of 25 new models.

The greatest hype came from Tata Motors, which on Thursday unveiled a $2,500 model, the world's cheapest car, named Nano, as the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" played loudly in the background. There were also luxury sedans and sports utility vehicles on offer, as well as a variety of small cars, gadgets and car parts. Indeed, so busy was the exhibition center where the AutoExpo was underway that there was a noisy, messy traffic jam inside its gates even before the official opening.
Not unexpectedly, Indian environmentalists have assailed the car craze, particularly because of the country's relatively relaxed emissions standards and the proliferation of diesel-powered cars; AutoExpo features a pavilion dedicated to diesel.

Even the usually non-confrontational chairman of the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra K. Pachauri, has sharply criticized the small car boom, questioning Tata Motors in particular for devoting itself to building cheap cars rather than efficient mass transportation. Greenpeace this week called for mandatory fuel efficiency standards, including information on carbon dioxide emissions.

On his first driving lesson this week, Mr. Sharma had more immediate worries in mind. Sharing the roads with him was a bicyclist with three cooking gas cylinders strapped to the back of his bike, a pushcart vendor plying guavas, a cycle rickshaw loaded with a photocopy machine (rickshaws often being the preferred mode of delivery for modern appliances).

There were also a great many pedestrians, either leaping into traffic in the absence of crosswalks or marching in thick rows on the sides of the road in the absence of sidewalks. At one point, a car careened down the wrong side of the road. Then a three-wheeled scooter-rickshaw came straight at him, only to duck swiftly into a side street. At least this morning there was no elephant chewing bamboo in the fast lane, as there sometimes is.

Dinner party chatter here is usually rife with theories on road management. It is said that Indians drive as though they are still on two wheels, or that snaking in and out of lanes is the only way so many cars can survive on narrow, ill-kept roads. Mr. Sharma's theory was simpler.
"We have a knack for breaking laws," he muttered.
The city's top cop in charge of traffic shared that sentiment. He was vexed by all this talk of new low-cost cars.

"My concern is not with cars. My concern is with drivers," said Suvashish Choudhary, the deputy commissioner of police. "Every new car will bring new drivers who are not trained for good city driving."
With a population of nearly 16.5 million, Delhi now adds 650 new vehicles to its roads each day. At last count, there were 5.4 million vehicles in all, a more than five-fold increase in 20 years; scooters and motorbikes still outnumber cars two-to-one.

Mr. Choudhary was reminded of the remarkable fact that the sharp rise in the number of cars in Delhi had not been accompanied by a sharp rise in traffic accidents. He scoffed, and went on to list his grievances: no one gives way; everyone jostles to be the first to move when the traffic light goes from red to green; a lack of crosswalks prompts pedestrians to frequently jump out into traffic. He called it "a lack of driving culture."
At least there was no elephant in his path this morning, chewing bamboo in the fast lane.

Pity the walker in the city. One in two fatal road accident victims is a pedestrians, according to police. Every now and then, a homeless person sleeping on the street is mowed down. Last week, a speeding car banged into a policeman standing at a traffic check point and didn't bother to stop; the officer was critically injured.
"Everyone knows a bit of driving," Mr. Sharma observed. "The problem is following the rules. Everyone is in a hurry."

Delhi issued more than 300,000 drivers' licenses last year, which could be seen as either a feat of bureaucratic efficiency or Indian ingenuity. At one city licensing office this week, the test consisted of turning on the ignition and driving in a wide circle that took about a minute. Ramfali, a professional chauffeur, said he scored a license even though he cannot read. Mr. Sharma paid about $40, or five times the official fee, to an independent broker who fetched him a license in half an hour.

Extra-loud horns are the new flavor in car accessories, along with a horn that beeps automatically when a car backs up. High-beams are also a popular option, and not just for dark country roads. Car mania has also spawned a new industry in driver training classes. Early mornings, you can see student drivers crawling along on the roads and veterans honking madly behind them.

Next in line this morning, after Mr. Sharma's two-hour long turn at the wheel, came Anita Vashisht, 40, a police station secretary who took her first lesson on the off chance that one day she could afford to buy a car. Aisha Arif, 20, was learning to drive so she could better badger her father to buy her a set of wheels. Rajender Kumar, a chauffeur, was teaching a friend, named Yogesh, to drive, so that he too could look for work as a chauffeur.

As for Mr. Sharma, by the end of his first class, he had decided that four wheels, while desirable, were not always practical. His scooter, he pointed out, was cheaper and faster.
His instructor, Amit Yadav, who trains an average of 11 new motorists a day, agreed. He said he commutes to work on his motorcycle. "The traffic is so bad it's not worth driving in Delhi," he reasoned.
But if you must, he went on, you have to be confident. "Get rid of your fear," he told Mr. Sharma. He attributed his own fearlessness to the passion of his youth. He said he was once a champion bicyclist.
Hari Kumar and Saher Mahmood contributed reporting from New Delhi.

Will Tata Motor's Nano overtake Maruti 800?

There is practically no head-on rival for the car that will sell to dealers at Rs one lakh, report Deepak Joshi & Suprotip Ghosh.
New Delhi, January 11, 2008

When Maruti 800 hit Indian roads over two decades ago, few could have visualised the manner in which it revolutionised the way we travel by car. The question today is: will it now give way to the Tata Nano launched Thursday?

Never mind the fact that what was touted as a Rs.100,000 car will cost at least a fifth more - and that's for the standard non-air conditioned version.

Also discount the fact that the formal rollout of the Nano will be only later this year. Seven of the 10 people at Thursday's launch said they would definitely consider it an option.
That's something that has Tata Motors chairman Ratan N. Tata and his team of executives smiling from ear to ear.
Jagdish Khattar, a former head of Maruti 800 manufacturer Maruti Udyog Ltd, says it's too early to say whether the Nano will overtake the original.
"It's a good product but it's still too early to say whether it will overtake the 800 because it caters to a totally new market segment," he said while watching a live telecast of Tata's press conference after unveiling of the Nano.

But clearly, at least one other manufacturer was worried.
An official of Hyundai Motors, which unveiled an LPG version of its Santro Thursday, was more circumspect.
"We definitely see it as impacting our sales," he said in halting English, preferring to maintain anonymity.

Whether or not the Nano will overtake the Maruti 800, one thing is for sure: the current Auto Expo will be remembered for Tata's people's car and for that product alone.

Various other manufacturers are unveiling a slew of products ranging from cars to motorbikes to luxury buses, and to the Madone-5.2, the hi-tech bike ridden by seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
But it is the Nano that has captured the hearts and minds of a majority of the spectators.
And the surprising part is that a car that is being touted as the vehicle for the rural masses could have a hard time filtering down there, given the large demand expected from the metros, the mini metros and other towns and cities.

Ratan Tata, however, insists that the Nano is for the rural masses - to the extent he chose the backward Singur area of West Bengal's Hoogly district as the site of the plant where the car will be produced.
"We hope we can make a difference in eastern India. We hope we can improve the quality of life (in Singur)," he said at his press conference Thursday.

Such statements are normally taken with more than a pinch of salt. But when someone like Tata says it with utmost passion, one can be sure he is speaking the truth and nothing but the truth.

{{People can't get enough of people's car}}
January 11 2008

It is indeed the "People's Car" that people can't wait to take home. Ramesh Khanna, a Delhiite, wanted to book a Nano, within hours of unveiling. Another mesmerised visitor whipped out his checkbook. He was willing to pay more than Rs 1 lakh.

These gentlemen were among those lucky enough to make it to the Tata stall at the auto-expo, where the Nano debuted on Thursday. They got close enough to take a good look at the new vehicle and fell in love with the gleaming beauty.

At the unveiling earlier, the country decided this was the car everyone wanted, as they saw a tall man ease himself out from behind the wheels. Ratan Tata did not hit his head against the roof and his legs cleared the doorway cleanly.

If it's big enough for Tata, it's big enough for India. And the world.
It's a worldwide hit. South African automobile website endearingly called it "Slowcoach Econobox". Most others slapped the label of "People's Car" on it, despite the fact the phrase found no mention in the Tata pitch.

It really is the car people have been waiting for. The Great Indian Mutiny, a blog, went live with updates as Tata unveiled the Nano — the opening line tells it all: "My mother: Why is he talking so much. Just show the car, Mr Tata. I am buying it anyway."
A joke. But that's the kind of frenzy that accompanied the launch. A London newspaper's website gushed that Nano got a "popstar" reception. Every media organisation in the world reported it — some with a sneer, the rest with eyes wide open.

But here is why Tata would not pay much attention to the sneering. Middle-class India just fell in love with the latest from the Tata stable. Deepak Srivastav, an Allahabad government officer, said, "It's time now to dump my scooter."

For Jeevan Khurana, a Delhi retired civil servant, "It's the best car for a retired government servant. It will do just fine for our needs — home to the local market and back and occasional visits to relatives and friends living close by."

But Tata is looking beyond Khurana and Srivastava. He said at the launch, "I hope this is a car that changes the way people travel in rural and semi-rural India." That's where Nano is headed, and that's where the car hopes to strike gold.
The customers would be people waiting to trade up from their scooters and motorcycles. For a lot of them, the decision was made as soon as they set their eyes on it — as the three Nanos glided across their TV screens.

Their was no way that Meenu, a schoolteacher in Dhanbad, would now allow her husband to buy a car, which they had been planning for a while now. They will now wait for the launch of the car later in the year.
Booking requests are pouring in at car dealers. At Rama Auto Dealer in Ranchi, the phone has been ringing off the hook with enquiries. Owner Mukesh Choudhary predicts a great future for Nano. "The middle class has just been waiting for this kind of a car."
When they say middle-class, they are actually looking at the owners of motorcycles and scooters. For them a car is now just a few thousands rupees more. There is also a younger bunch of people waiting to move up the ladder.

Ludhiana's Gurdeep Singh has a packed garage - one Toyota Innova and a Mitsubishi. But said there is room for a Nano, for his daughter. "It would be a perfect car for," he said, "it would suit her personality well." So, there you are. A blogger on The Great Indian Mutiny gushed: Hats off to you, sir.

He meant Ratan Tata.

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