A report at CNN kinda states the obvious, that if the $2,500 Tata Nano proves as popular in India as most people think it will be, there will be a huge increase in demand for gasoline there. And if worldwide demand for oil goes up, the price of gasoline here will go up. Basic economics, right? Well, CNN looks a little deeper, and gets into why we're likely to see higher pump prices soon.
The target market for the Nano in India is people who do not currently own cars. That means droves of fuel-efficient scooter drivers will trade two wheels for four. And even though the Nano gets 54 mpg, that's still not as good as most of the scooters sold there.
And the second reason is that Tata sees the Nano as a "gateway" car. Get 'em addicted to the cheap stuff, then move 'em up to bigger, more profitable, less fuel-efficient cars later.
Combine these two reasons with the fact that the Nano will likely be sold in China as well, and you potentially have hundreds of millions of newly licensed drivers in line at the pump. The CNN story quotes one oil analyst who says we're likely to see gas prices near $4 or $5 well before 2015.