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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.