Think a car with manual windows and no A/C is the cheapest you can get? Over in India, Tata Motors (The car at left is one of theirs) is going to launch a car that will cost the equivalent of just $2,467 next year. The subcompact has four doors and a 600-cc engine – that’s 0.6 liters – that makes just 33 hp. America’s cheapest car, the $9,995 Chevy Aveo5, has a 1.6-liter engine with 103 hp.
Of course, the Aveo5 meets minimum crash standards. At least initially, Tata’s pint-sized sedan will be built and sold only in India, so it won’t have to meet European safety standards, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Tata isn’t the only automaker that sells bargain-priced cars. Renault marketed the Logan sedan in Europe for just $7,200 in 2004. In India, Chinese automaker Geely sells a car for $3,900. Suzuki markets the Maruti 800, whose price is now creeping toward $5,000 at current exchange rates. It’s a three-cylinder, 30-hp hatchback that doesn’t even pretend to look like it was designed in the ‘90s, let alone this decade.
You can’t beat the price, though. Roland Berger Strategy Consultants expects the market for sub-$10,000 cars to grow to 18 million, or one-fifth of international auto sales, by 2012, according to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. Geely might well be the first automaker to bring those cars en masse to the U.S. — the automaker has announced plans to import cars here by the end of the decade, though we’ll believe that when we see it. With all the safety and emissions standards they’ll have to meet, it’s unlikely these cars could cost much less than $8,000. What compromises would you be willing to make to get a set of wheels at that price? Weigh in below.
Reverse Sticker Shock: Get a New Car for $2,467, (St. Petersburg Times)
Tata’s New Car is Cheap ($2,467), But Will it Sell?, (Los Angeles Times)