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The World's Cheapest Car Set To Launch

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the be-nice-to-have-a-toolin-mobile dept.

Transportation 418

theodp writes "Ready for one-automobile-per-child (OAPC)? India's giant Tata Group is on the verge of launching the world's cheapest car. The People's Car, slated to be unveiled January 10th at a New Delhi auto show, will carry a sticker price of 100,000 rupees ($2,500), which some analysts say could revolutionize automobile costs worldwide. The Tata is a pet project of Cornell-trained architect Ratan Tata, who helped design it. The vehicle is aimed at improving driving safety by getting India's masses off their motorbikes and into cars."

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418 comments

Tatas (5, Funny)

sgtron (35704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862724)

Heh.. you said "tatas".

God, I would love to have a tata to ride around in.. Of course people might say I looked like a boob inside that thing, but I wouldn't care.

"needspics"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862934)

What do you need them for? To pile into the car?

Re:Tatas (2, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863116)

Stop making fun of their language! "Tata" is hindi for "rubber band!"

You know, like "Go wind up the tata so we can get going!"

Re:Tatas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863252)

It actually said "giant Tata". Sweet.

Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (2, Interesting)

n2rjt (88804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862740)

This sounds like a great thing, and I wonder if any imitation of it will ever see the shores of the U.S. Probably not any chance of that. I tried to find some specs, but the site is already slashdotted.

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (3, Informative)

superash (1045796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862770)

I tried to find some specs, but the site is already slashdotted.

The specs are not out yet. It will be revealed at the auto show.

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (2, Funny)

aalu.paneer (872021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862884)

TATA is like Apple in that way. They reveal very little about their product before the official release.

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (4, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862814)

I doubt it will ever arrive in the U.S., at least not at that price.

The vehicle is aimed at improving driving safety by getting India's masses off their motorbikes and into cars."

Hmm...the world's second most populous nation switching from motorcycles to cars. Yes, that should do wonders for gas prices / global warming.

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862966)

Think about it though. More demand for oil = higher gas prices = more effort in the US to get off of oil (I would hope). With Stanford's nanotube breakthrough a couple of days ago with regards to Lithium Ion batteries, 2000 mile range electric cars are well within our grasp.

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/wireless/?p=169 [com.com]

Stanford University assistant professor Yi Cui and his research team are about to revolutionize lithium ion battery technology. Cui was able to overcome an existing design limitation and construct a battery capable of producing ten times more electricity than an equivalent sized lithium ion battery using current technology. Just imagine being able to use a battery-powered notebook for 20 hours instead of the 2-3 hours of service that existing lithium ion batteries provide now.

If you read up on it more, they're using silicon nanotubes to store the lithium instead of the carbon anode.

Nanotube batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863172)

Why not submit this as a story?

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862982)

Switching from CHEAP motorbikes to cars. From oil-gas mix two stroke to four stroke engines at minimum. Still think this would increase pollution?

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863034)

Yes, to CO2. No, to particulates and sulfur dioxide and stuff like that.

It'll probably make the breathability of air better and the global warming problem worse.

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863120)

To breathe better air or not to breathe better air for the sake of some rich people elsewhere, assuming value from some vague and tiny effect if even an effect at all, is somehow not an easy question for you?

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863118)

The thing has 32hp and weighs in at 600kg, so it should get good mileage, and is supposed to pass Euro 3 emissions. Odds are it would be much safer than motorcycles and have much better emissions than those in use in India, so it should lead to safer roads and less global warming.

We already have cars like that in America. We call them golf carts.

dom

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (2, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862968)

Does it pass California smog certification? If it doesn't, it better run Linux. :P

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (1)

atamido (1020905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863222)

Smog? Forget California smog laws, this thing wouldn't pass federal safety regulations.

This thing was designed for use by people in India, which means that the only way someone in one of these would survive an impact with a Honda Civic is if the Tata were light enough to just be bounced out of the way. An SUV could probably tear through it without even slowing down.

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (5, Informative)

Fireshadow (632041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863240)

As for the specs: As for seeing it in the U.S., two things here: In India required safety standards do not currently include full-body crash testing, airbags or antilock braking systems (1). The cars would have to be upgraded to be U.S. street legal. Which brings us to this point: "Roland Berger [consulting group] estimates it would cost as much as $4,000 on top of Tata's $2,500 to engineer the car to meet U.S. safety and emissions regulations, transport it, pay tariffs, market it, pay lawyers and offer warranties. The same would hold true to meet European or Japanese standards. Meanwhile, the Tata would have to compete, too, with a used-car market that turns over 43 million cars a year. A quick Web search shows that $6,500 could buy a 1998 Cadillac Seville with a V-8 engine and a leather interior, or a 2002 Dodge Caravan that seats seven." References: 1 NY Times [nytimes.com] 2 Rediff [rediff.com] 3 Forbes [forbes.com] 4 Business Week [businessweek.com]

Re:Sounds interesting, but any hope of US? (1)

atamido (1020905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863246)

Why on earth would a cheap mass production car in India cost $2500? Does a steel frame, motorcycle engine, plastic body panels, windows, and wheels really cost that much? I'd think they could put together something for less than $1000.

I didn't think it was possible to outcheap kia (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862750)

Here I thought KIAs were the cheapest form of crap I've ever seen in the automobile world.

Re:I didn't think it was possible to outcheap kia (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862796)

As a Kia owner (Sorento) I can tell you to STFU.

Low cost can equal value.

I have no problems with our vehicle and it handles a family of 5 quite well. (+dog)

Re:I didn't think it was possible to outcheap kia (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862812)

As a Kia owner (Sorento) I can tell you to STFU.
Yes, but you can only do it at a max of 25 MPH with bits falling off

Re:I didn't think it was possible to outcheap kia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863068)

At least you can out run the granny in the Daewoo

This is not new . . . (5, Interesting)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862760)

The Germans came out with this people's car [westminstercollege.edu] concept back in the 1930s,... Heck, that's pretty much a direct translation of the word, "Volkswagon [volkswagon.com]!

Re:This is not new . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862778)

You mean Volkswagen.

Re:This is not new . . . (1)

Saxophonist (937341) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862956)

Doesn't anyone (in the USA) remember the Yugo [wikipedia.org]? Although I could have sworn I remember commercials advertising it for $3333.

Re:This is not new . . . (1)

kamatsu (969795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862986)

The Volkswagen was a mass produced car, the first of it's kind. This was how it was publicly accessible - it was made for utility not class.

That is why it was called the Volkswagen.

This new People's car is aimed at making the existing mass produced cars cheaper for access by poorer countries. Totally different concept, totally different idea, just a similar name.

Slashdotted - Mirror Here (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862766)

2500 Rupees? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862768)

My wallet only holds 500, I wonder if Golden Skulltulas are legal tender?
Maybe five of us could cut grass together and car pool.

Re:2500 Rupees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863162)

Informative?! Seriously?

Wow.

(I did enjoy the reference though. Kudos.)

From an environmental perspective... (2, Insightful)

hsdpa (1049926) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862780)

This sounds like a really nice idea for the people, but what about the environment when literally everybody affords a car?

Re:From an environmental perspective... (1)

ja (14684) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863006)

They are only producing 60000 cars a year, so it will take them a thousind years to produce the 60 million cars needed to get most of the nation going ... By which time I doubt that there is any oil left.

Re:From an environmental perspective... (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863014)

for a start, screw the environment, people are more important. your talking about india here it's smog filled already anyway, brand new cars will improve things if anything. these things look like they have the motor out of a vespa anyway.

Re:From an environmental perspective... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863090)

> for a start, screw the environment, people are more important. your talking about india here it's smog filled already anyway

Uh, this may come as a shock to you, but the "environment" is the thing people have to live in!

Re:From an environmental perspective... (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863086)

What kind of mileage do these things get? If it's >40, which I'm sure it will be (and maybe even >50), if a significant number of Americans buy them instead of the garbage that's on our roads now, it could offset some of the additional pollution from India.

Also, an improved standard of living is better for pollution control. If enough capital flows into India to make the up-front cost of nuclear plants affordable, for instance, the coal plants that are not built will offset the cars that are.

Re:From an environmental perspective... (1)

atamido (1020905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863264)

There is no way this car would meet American federal safety standards, or the California smog standards that are required on any car sold here.

Re:From an environmental perspective... (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863140)

Hmmmm... seems only fair to me that, if you first manage to reduce the number of cars in your family/town/country, you can start whining about other people about their potential fleet size.

The negative (3, Insightful)

DevilJeff (243585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862782)

I can't help but think of the negative effect this will have. Getting people off of their bikes (motor or otherwise) can't be good for fuel consumption, polution during and after the life of the vehicle, and roadway congestion to name a few.

Re:The negative (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862936)

and roadway congestion to name a few.


I agree with the other points but not about roadway congestion. The transportation network throughput will be higher if people drive in a car 60mph as opposed to have 3 times as many people drive bikes but moving at only 15mph. Yes, you'll have a lot more people on the road at the same time but they'll be moving a lot slower. I guess the best is to have motor bikes and very narrow lanes. That will result in a very high death count though...

Re:The negative (2, Interesting)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863020)

It's surprising how pervasive is the idea that someone is automatically "safer" as soon as you put a metal box around them.

- RG>

Re:The negative (2, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863228)

It's true. I've had a fairly serious crash in a Ford Sierra. Car was totally destroyed but I barely felt a thing. If I'd been riding a motor bike I'd probably be dead or at least seriously injured. That bent metal absorbed a lot of kinetic energy that would otherwise have been used to mangle me.

Very impressive really. I'd read about crumple zones and so on, but actually experiencing them first hand convinced me to never drive a small car again.

Re:The negative (2, Interesting)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863082)

shashdotted so can't RTFA, but if this replaces good chunk of the two-cycle bangers used in motor rickshaws with a more modern 4-cycle engines, it should reduce pollution. Sounds like the car is small enough to be comparable to the rickshaws (is it?), in which case congestion impact shouldn't be too big while buying added safety. Wonder how customizable the horn may be. ;-) Hope it works out - we don't all need armor-plated humbys.

Re:The negative (1)

aalu.paneer (872021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863100)

roadway congestion

Roadway congestion is a problem in bigger urban areas. The major market for this kind of car is smaller cities, town and out-skirts of big urban centers.

Exactly What We Need (1, Troll)

abscissa (136568) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862784)

Why are people entitled to have every luxury good at an such a low cost that it jeopardizes human and environmental health and safety? I do not think a Wal Mart world is something to aspire to. Too bad the free market basically only takes into account demand and cost.

Re:Exactly What We Need (1)

bidule (173941) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862916)

Pot, kettle. Or you wouldn't be on /..

Our standard of living has to go down quite a lot before we can talk. Until we develop some low-cost, low-footprint technologies and try to persuade them to use our ecologically friendly solution, we can't say a word.

Holier-than-thou is a little hypocritical here.

Re:Exactly What We Need (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862962)

Why should the rich have any greater right to jeopardize human and environmental health and safety? Especially when comparing the wealth of people in different parts of the world; you can't say that the comparative net worth of a particular American vs. a particular Indian have anything to do with individual merit.

This is what I keep wondering about the US insistence that we do nothing about the environment until China takes action first - even though our per capita CO2 emissions are still 400% of theirs! We might be willing to freeze our emissions at current levels if they freeze theirs at what are (to us) levels from the 1930's? Please.

Yes, I do understand. As an American I find the prospect of equal access to natural resources for everybody on earth very frightening, because I am accustomed to our position of privilege. But I won't try to rationalize that selfish and irrational sentiment.

Re:Exactly What We Need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862994)

FYI, If a billionaire and I ever make a bet about proving a mans behavior is the product of his circumstances or some rubish like that and we need some one to throw into poverty. I'm going to insist its you.

Any takers?

Hypocrisy (1)

xRelisH (647464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863130)

Why are people entitled to have every luxury good at an such a low cost that it jeopardizes human and environmental health and safety

I think it's interesting for people to make comments like these when a third world nation tries to progress itself, when they're often posting from an iPhone while sipping their Starbucks Latte and then hopping into their Lexus.

Cheaper Cars - More Cars (1)

DirtyHerring (635192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862790)

What a great way to make the world a place with more garbage and more pollution.

Re:Cheaper Cars - More Cars (2, Insightful)

coldcell (714061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862836)

Well, that depends on if the motorcycles they are replacing are more polluting than they are, then this would be helping to reduce pollution.

Re:Cheaper Cars - More Cars (1)

almeida (98786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863064)

Well, that depends on if the motorcycles they are replacing are more polluting than they are, then this would be helping to reduce pollution.
It wouldn't surprise me if that were the case. In Thailand, for example, many of the motorcycles have two-stroke engines that burn a mix of gasoline and oil as fuel. Frequently, the oil added to the fuel is just used motor oil from cars. Used motor is considered hazardous waste in many areas because it contains lots of toxic and carcinogenic material. If India's bikes are anything like Thailand's, replacing them with cleaner cars would be a good thing.

Re:Cheaper Cars - More Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863092)

No, this is a false assumption. Based on the resources that will go into building these cars will be primarily oil/gas (Direct or indirect use) then the net effect will be to increase oil consumption. Also these cars use gasoline as there source of power. Even if they used electrical motors, the electricity is most likely produced form coal or gas.

We are so dependent on oil that the alternatives we are just starting to build and employ now, need huge amounts of carbon resources to get off the ground.

If even 250 million people in india buy this (a quarter of their population) the world is in for one hell of a shock.

What about the Chinese? (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862792)

I thought the Chinese would beat India on this important issue. One thing I know is that they (the Chinese), are not very far behind, and they will beat the Indians. Already, they own a bigger chunk of our electronics market as compared to the Indians.

Re:What about the Chinese? (1)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862824)

This is targeted for Indian market, not US or Chinese market. It probably has less power than Geo Metro so it is not going to work well at US highway speeds (acceleration wise).

Re:What about the Chinese? (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863208)

I thought the Chinese would beat India on this important issue.
Do you really think having a car is an important issue in a country that still has extreme poverty? The mobility of a car is nice, but it's usually a money-sink for the owner... and remember, despite the PR, this isn't about helping people, it's about Tata reaching a larger market and selling more cars. Meanwhile, the Chinese have bigger fish to fry than putting people into cars, and they realize their cities are jammed with the things already.

Your mileage may vary (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862810)

But after 'dealer delivery cost' and 'optional features' the price will be more like 15K, no doubt.

Is it safe? (4, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862818)

Considering how poorly [youtube.com] the not-even-as-low-cost Chinese cars perform [youtube.com] in crash-tests [youtube.com], you've got to wonder how on earth something that cheap could possibly be safe at anything faster than walking speed.

For now, I'll hold on to my Peel P50 [youtube.com].

The problem I see... (3, Insightful)

Franklin Brauner (1034220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862832)

...is that all of those motorbikes are still going to be on the road, and now there's going to be a bunch of cheap cars as well. I think it likely that this will increase accidents and congestion, not to mention the increase in pollution (why wasn't that a factor in the vehicle's design?!).

Re:The problem I see... (3, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863164)

why wasn't that a factor in the vehicle's design?!
Because that would add about $500 more to the price of the vehicle (minimum) and they were optimizing the vehicle for cost not for fuel economy, safety, or low emissions. It would still be an improvement however over the equally unsafe and much dirtier two-stroke 3 wheelers and motorcycle taxis with sidecars that are still driving around in India today.

safer ??? (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862840)

Once they are in a car I believe the extra (false) sense of safety will lead to an increase in the already high rate of unsafe driving, and so safety will actually drop.

They don't need more cars, they need better licensing and training.

The US definitely needs this also. Between the cell phone idiots and people who just shouldn't be driving, being on the road in the US is not a particularly safe place to be either.

Spoken as a motorcyle AND bicyle rider.

Re:safer ??? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862952)

I drive cars but completely agree with you. I could have sworn that there were studies that showed that people with safety features tended to drive more recklessly. I know people that got stuck more often when they got 4WD trucks when they didn't get stuck as much when they only drove 2WD trucks. In other words, 4WD seems to be the trick to getting people out of situations that they wouldn't have gotten into if they didn't have it.

Re:safer ??? (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863060)

That's not to mention how they drive on ice. I was driving extremely carefully in my RWD sedan when the roads were completely iced over. I saw a couple of SUVs driving recklessly and start flying all over the place.

People need to understand that if the entire road is a sheet of ice your AWD or 4WD street-whales aren't going to magically ignore it. I hate driving in the winter, which is why I'm glad my commute is currently so short.

Re:safer ??? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863106)

The way I like to present it to people is that stopping is the biggest problem and AWD/4WD doesn't improve on that.

Re:safer ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863124)

While I can fully agree on the 4x4 vs 2x4. I call bogus on safety car and reckless driving.

Now I'll go anon on this, but the recklessness of my driving is much more proportional to my mood 1st and 4th most, the price of the car and potential collateral damage to surroundings if things went bad.

If anything safety loaded cars tend to remind me of the importance of non-reckless driving in regard of less safety loaded cars.

Re:safer ??? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863138)

I could have sworn that there were studies that showed that people with safety features tended to drive more recklessly.

A long time ago I read an interview with the guy who invented the mini. He hoped initially that its better handling would improve road safety. Instead it just allowed drivers to corner faster and there was no improvement in safety.

Great idea... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862852)

Get the maniacs off their scooters and into something bigger and heavier, so they can do some real damage.

Oh no! (1)

superash (1045796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862860)

If they manage to get everyone with a motocycle to get a car, what about the 2x to 3x times fuel consumption of the car and the 2x times pollution caused by cars?

Environmentally, it's bad news. If they tell me it's fuel efficiency is close to a motorcycle, then i'm sold!

Re:Oh no! (1)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863010)

Seems like it should be, the article said that it only has a 33 HP engine, and that the car only weighs 600ish KGs

so 33HP for 1300 pounds it won't be fast but if it is like any of the old light toyota / nissan cars it will get probably ~40-45 MPG, BETTER than many ~600 CC bikes.

To whoever tagged this "needs pics" (3, Interesting)

VorpalEdge (967279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862870)

From the summary (not even the article!):

The People's Car, slated to be unveiled January 10th at a New Delhi auto show, will carry a...

It's kind of hard for pictures to be available when it hasn't even been unveiled yet. Of course, I'm not even sure why an announcement of an announcement is news, but what can you do?

probably not worth buying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862890)

you get what you pay for. it probably will break down in less than 6 months. the repairs/maintenance for the car will probably cost more than the original cost in about a years time.

They tried that once.... (1)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862912)

...It was called a Yugo [wikipedia.org] The Yugoslav government claimed that it would be so cheap that it would drive all the evil capitalist carmakers out of business... Yeaaaaahhh..... That kindof didn't happen... Consumer Reports claimed that it, "barely qualified as a car." It had a 1.1 liter engine, barely enough to get it moving on a windy day... speaking of windy day, a Yugo was literally blown off the Mackinac bridge by high gales... Yeah, the whole Yugo thing didn't work out so well... I doubt this project will, either... but, the Yugo did get featured in the movie, Dragnet [imdb.com]:

"After losing the two previous vehicles we had been issued, the only car the department was willing to release to us at this point was an unmarked 1987 Yugo, a Yugoslavian import donated to the department as a test vehicle by the government of that country and reflecting the cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology. "

Good times... Good times!! Maybe this Indian car will get a starring role in a movie, too.... at least it's got a shot at a Bollywood movie! ;-)

Just what the world needs..... (4, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862920)

With $100 barrel oil and global warming, that's just what the world needs is to get a couple billion more people sitting in traffic jams burning up the dwindling supply of fossil fuels and polluting the air.

Re:Just what the world needs..... (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863002)

The motorbikes they're on now, while using less gas, are likely far worse when it comes to air pollution than this car would be. Especially when you start to factor in carpooling.

Re:Just what the world needs..... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863144)

The motorbikes they're on now, while using less gas, are likely far worse when it comes to air pollution than this car would be.

But electric bikes are just becoming practical.

Re:Just what the world needs..... (1)

ghyd (981064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863178)

Hope you're not occidental, especially not American. Or I'll have to laugh at you.

Re:Just what the world needs..... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863196)

Not even remotely comparable to the waste and pollution of an SUV, though.

If you're serious about your comment, then you should be advocating that Americans generally replace their existing gas guzzlers with something more economical, then those Indians could buy their own cars and we'd still be environmentally better off around the world.

Clearly these people spend little time IN traffic (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21862942)

Having just got back from a 2 week business trip in India, where I got to ride around in Bangalore in traffic (in a Tata car no less), ... what the hell are these people thinking?

If you want to fix India traffic issues the solution is not to add MORE CARS. Infact, I would argue one should add more motorcycles to the traffic. The motorcycles are the only vehicles that get around easily in Indian traffic while the rest of the road is jammed up with giant trucks manufacturered by TATA ... yeah no conflict of interest here. Most of the guys I work with rode bikes to work, and stated their commutes would be about 33% longer if they took a car.

Real ideas for fixing Indian traffic issues and fatailities:

Purge the Indian traffic police and start over. From what I saw these guys are incredibly ineffective. They stand around and wave during rush hour. They have no power to change the flow of traffic or enforce laws due to the sheer mass and force of violations occuring. You don't get 1 guy running a red light in india, you get the whole damn contents of the Intersection.

Build a new agency from the ground up focused around safety and enforcement of laws, and start ENFORCING the traffic laws.

Increase traffic fines - now my judgement here may be skewed because the standard of living is lower in India and as a result these fines may be more to your average Indian, but check this out:

http://www.bcp.gov.in/english/trafficpolice/trafficdos/spotfines.htm [bcp.gov.in]

It's a list of "spot fines". Note that 40 rupees is about $1 USD.

Speeding? $7.50
Driving without a license? $7.50.
Running a red light? $2.50

Yeah - does anyone else wonder why these offenses continue to happen?

Study traffic calming techniques used in some european countries recently. The problem I see with the roads in India is they're built much like US roads - wide, big, with high curbs, and the sheer design of them encourages speeding. Parking problems in the city has made parking on lots of main roads illegal.

Get rid of the high curbs everywhere, put parked cars back onto the streets to provide a visual and mental barrier for pedestrian traffic, and make the roads "feel" dangerous (which really, if you dont think Indian traffic is dangerous already you dont have a pulse but whatetver...)

Get the giant ass Tata trucks off the roads. I don't know what the hell these Tata trucks do driving around all the time, but theyre huge flatbeds, bigger then everything else on the road, and look dangerous as hell.

Mass transit - finish the projects on time and ahead of schedule. Yeah, that means YOU Bangalore officials sitting on your asses getting kickbacks from the Metro project. Fix the shit.

Crosswalks/pedestrian bridges - Try painting some lines on the road once and a while .... and build some more pedestrian bridges so the populace doesn't have to play human frogger all day long.

Get the wildlife off the roads - Now seriously, I respect the traditional farmers still left in the country and in the cities, but cows do NOT belong on roads, ok?!

Re:Clearly these people spend little time IN traff (1)

aalu.paneer (872021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863136)

where I got to ride around in Bangalore in traffic (in a Tata car no less), ... what the hell are these people thinking?

You are mixing two different issues. Bangalore is not a typical market for this car. And yes, the traffic in Bangalore is a mess as you experienced. A lot of construction you might have encountered is for a mass raid transportation expected to be operation from 2011. See http://www.bmrc.co.in/ [bmrc.co.in].

Re:Clearly these people spend little time IN traff (1)

viggie (1198131) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863238)

Yes, motorcycles are the fastest way to commute in most Indian cities. Not only the 'spot fines' are low, the chances of paying these fines are also low. Most people get away with traffic irregularities as long as it didn't end in an accident.

deaths (1)

revisionz (82265) | more than 6 years ago | (#21862944)

The vehicle is aimed at improving driving safety by getting India's masses off their motorbikes and into cars."


USA has 186 deaths per 10000, not 1.86. India is already 9 times safer than the USA. (see the comment at the bottom)

it's 32hp and 1300 pounds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21863016)

A bicycle or motorcycle might be safer.
At least for getting out of the way of what's about to hit you.

Unintended Consequences (3, Informative)

titzandkunt (623280) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863026)


It's incredible how many people start wading into all kinds of issues with the intent of improving safety without the first notion of what risk really is and how we humans evaluate and cope with it.

Anybody who's work may impact public safety should be forced at gunpoint to at least read Risk [amazon.co.uk] by John Adams. It has much to say about the effects of public safety initiatives and their unintended consequences.

For instance, after the introduction of compulsory seatbelt legislation in the UK, the number of motorists who were killed or seriously injured decreased somewhat. Unfortunately more cyclists and pedestrians were killed or seriousy injured in collisions with motor vehicles, such that the overall number of road deaths increased. Adams attributes the increase to drivers' assessment of their own level of risk being reduced, hence they tended to drive more quickly and in a more dangerous fashion, until their personal risk threshold was restored.

"...The vehicle is aimed at improving driving safety by getting India's masses off their motorbikes and into cars..."

In light of what I said previously, look out for a rise in the overall number of people KSI on India's roads...

T&K.

Cars may actually ease congestion (2, Interesting)

xRelisH (647464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863114)

A lot of people seem to belief that having cars on the roads instead of bikes will actually worsen the congestion problems in India. However, I think it may actually improve it, and also reduce traffic violations.

I think the mobility of a motorbike might actually be a double-edged sword. When you feel mobile, you are more likely to dart across lanes and perhaps even run a red light. With a car, you're much larger, and you're not as agile and less likely to make risky moves, and bumping into someone would mean denting or scratching your car. Bumping into someone when you're on these moped-like bikes at slower speeds is not a big deal, so there's not much of an incentive to be extra cautious.

I'd also like to think that these cars may be more fuel efficient than a typical two stroke motorbike engine, and could presumably seat 4 (albeit cramped) instead of at most two adults safely on a bike.

I think it's also interesting how some people cry outrage when the use of fossil fuels may increase when a few minutes later they hop into their SUV. Apparently it's OK for the first world nations to have big cars, but when the Indians want to have a few small ones, it's a bad thing?

Disposable and recyclable cars (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863132)

We need them and there's not many reasons why we can't already have cars that are mostly disposable and/or recyclable. Instead of paying over and over again for the same thing every 2 to five years, automobile companies could offer contracts where you can get X many cars over Y many years. When you're done, you just take the car back to them and get another one and they take care of it. You still have the option of keeping one car if you want to, but for the overwhelming part of the population that tend to get new cars on a regular basis, this sort of situation could help out both the buyer and the manufacturer. The buyer doesn't loose all the value of his car when it leaves the lot and the manufacturer can recoup some of the cost of materials. People who like to keep their cars for a long time can do so with the satisfaction of mind that they can easily get rid of it once they're done.

Re:Disposable and recyclable cars (1)

brinebold (1209806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863262)

Exactly what is the beneficial difference between what you're describing and a lease, where the car is simply sold or re-leased by the manufacturer after a predetermined time?

The potholes? (2, Informative)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863214)

First they would have to fix the potholes on the roads. When I was in Bangalore, there were numerous holes in the middle of a wide boulevard. You can't use the word "potholes" because these holes can easily swallow a Honda Civic. Plus, they're usually marked and blocked off by only one single traffic cone. So if Bangalore, being a world class tech city, was like this - I can only imagine the less-endowed cities throughout India. You see a lot less of this in China. Not even the third-tier cities away from the coastline.

Found an image of the car (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 6 years ago | (#21863234)

Try this link:

http://paultan.org/archives/2007/10/07/more-details-on-tata-1-lakh-car/ [paultan.org]

It looks like a car that's been squeezed. It would never be sold in the US because it's missing all the federally mandated safety features... not to mention that the thing looks like it'll flip over if it goes faster than 40mph.

What it's going to do is destroy the auto market outside the US. Ford, GM, and heck, even China will have to compete against Tata in the markets that aren't as controlled as the US's is. This is why Volkswagen is making the "UP", which goes back to it's Beetle roots.

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