To me, Tata Nano is a pretty amazing vehicle. The look is decent, and I agree with a lot of what was said on WHYS today about the horrible potential to increase congestion and nasty emissions. But what we have here is a car that costs just $2,500. That's with a gasoline engine that moves the car at 50+ mpg. The most exciting thing about the Nano, though, is the potential it has for pure electric drive in a few years.
Right now, lithium batteries for EVs are terribly expensive, but if we look five years down the road, and get a pack that can move a car as small as the Nano at city speeds for, say, $3,000, you're talking about a $5,500 pure electric car. Sure, it won't help the congestion problem, but just imagine what a difference a country full of EVs could make. Even today (ok, later this year when the car is released), buying a Nano and then spending $7,000 or more to convert it to electrons is certainly a good option.
This is not just an idea for poorer countries as, according to Automotive News (subs req'd), Tata is hinting that the Nano (albeit a larger version of the car) could be sold in Europe a few years down the road. Actually, some executives are more than hinting. The AN article ends like this:
"When we go to Europe, we will conform to all existing regulations," said Girish Wagh, head of the 500-member Nano product development team, at the press conference. Responding to a question, he added" "Yes, I said when."
The World Have Your Say blog on the Tata Nano is here and you can get the podcast of the show here. I assume there's a way to stream the show as well, but I couldn't find it.