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Tata Nano -- World's Cheapest Car Coming to U.S.

Posted: Jun 08, 2009 10:27 a.m.

The world's cheapest car could be sold in the U.S. by 2011.

Reuters reports, "Tata Motors hopes to offer the Nano, dubbed the world's cheapest car, in the United States within two years, its chairman said."  The Indian company "plans to offer a European version of the car, which costs about $2,300, in 2011," and now hopes to bring over a U.S. version around the same time.

The tiny, rear-engine two-door was "designed to be cheap, simplistic transportation for the working classes of India," according to Automobile Magazine.  Powered by a 0.6-liter, two-cylinder engine, the car has a top speed of barely 60 mph.  It may require significant engineering work to make it road legal in the United States.

But, Wired notes, company Chairman Rattan Tata told a gathering of journalists at the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Global Enterprise last week "It will need to meet all emission and crash standards and so we hope in the next two years we will be offering such a vehicle in the U.S."  Changes to meet those standards, however, would almost certainly drive the price up.

One important question remains, however: where will the little car be sold?  Tata owns both Land Rover and Jaguar, which have U.S. dealership networks.  However, Automotive News reports, "Stuart Schorr, a spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover North America, said in an e-mail: 'Tata will not use Jaguar Land Rover's distribution network and vice versa.'"

If you're in the market for a new car, check out the U.S. News rankings of this year's best cars as well as this month's best car deals.