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Struggling Tata Nano Gets Competition as “World’s Cheapest Car”

New Bajaj RE60 meant as rickshaw replacement.

by on Jan.06, 2012

You can buy a rickshaw - or a Bajaj RE60.

How low can you go?  India’s Tata Motors thought it found rock-bottom when it launched the $2,600 Nano several years ago.  But it is about to get a run for its money from the new Bajaj RE60, a microcar its manufacturer says is meant to replace the time-honored rickshaw — and which could come in at a price even lower than the Nano’s.

That could be bad news for Tata, which has been struggling to build demand for the stripped-down Nano, which has suffered from an assortment of glitches since its March 2009 introduction.  Among other things, it was involved in a series of fires and, most recently, Tata announced it would have to replace the starters in 140,000 of the pint-sized vehicles.

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“I don’t consider it a flop,” Ratan Tata, the soon-to-retire chairman of parent company Tata Sons, insisted during a news conference in New Delhi at Auto Expo 2012.  “I consider it that we have wasted an opportunity.”

The opportunity to now make the Nano the success originally envisioned will certainly be tested with the launch of the Bajaj RE60.

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First Look: Ford EcoSport

Will Ford eventually bring mini-crossover to U.S.?

by on Jan.04, 2012

The Ford EcoSport crossover shares platforms with the subcompact Fiesta model.

Ford is offering a first glimpse of a new mini-crossover that will share platforms with the maker’s global subcompact, the Fiesta.

Dubbed the Ford EcoSport, the new model made its formal debut this week at Auto Expo 2012, the big Indian motor show in New Delhi.  Underscoring the significance of the new model was the fact that Ford CEO Alan Mulally was personally on hand to lift the covers.

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“The all-new Ford EcoSport reflects our commitment to serve our customers with the cars and trucks they truly want and value,” said the 66-year-old executive.

The latest example of the so-called One Ford strategy – which calls for using common platforms and body “top hats” for markets around the world – the EcoSport is primarily aimed at what Ford describes as “major worldwide growth markets,” notably including India, China and Brazil.

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