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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 12-31-07, 01:04 AM   #1
donrhummy
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Car-Free dealt a HUGE blow

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5...BRu_fqNPgOHBNw

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India's giant Tata Group plans to launch the world's cheapest car early in January...Ratan Tata, head of the tea-to-steel Tata conglomerate, will unveil the "People's Car" January 10 at a New Delhi auto show that will carry a sticker price of 100,000 rupees, or 2,500 dollars, which some analysts say could revolutionise automobile costs worldwide.

The cheap car, a pet project of Cornell-trained architect Ratan Tata that he helped design, is aimed at getting India's masses off their motorbikes and into cars.

"I hope to make a contribution to making life safer for them (the masses)," said reclusive tycoon Ratan Tata, who has spearheaded the growth strategy of the company known for its philanthropic values and paternal management style.

"That's what drove me -- a man on a two-wheeler with a child standing in front, his wife sitting behind, add to that the wet roads -- a family in potential danger," Tata, who turned 70 on Friday, said on the company website.
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Old 12-31-07, 01:15 AM   #2
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I heard they're pretty crappy cars, but that's not the point, is it? You can't blame the Indians for wanting cars, though. Why should they deny themselves these tiny cars when Americans won't even scale one pound off their SUVs?
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Old 12-31-07, 01:57 AM   #3
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I remember reading several years back where one of the American car companies had a design for a cheap little car largely made out of plastic that was supposed to put the developing world on wheels. It never got into production. I think they figured out that people around the world would rather spend $5,000 on a used normal car rather than a new super-cheap car. I would expect a similar fate for this one.

As to the safety aspects, compared to motorcycles- that depends on how they're used. Cram 8 people in and see how safe they are.
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Old 12-31-07, 02:04 AM   #4
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Hmmm...wasn't there another country, at some time, that developed a "people's car"?
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Old 12-31-07, 03:01 AM   #5
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Instead of one family in danger on one two-wheeler, you'll have multiple families in danger since they'll all be clinging to the car that they pitched in together to buy.

Yeah, that's a stereotype, but it wouldn't surprise me, either.
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Old 12-31-07, 05:48 AM   #6
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A cheap car means high maintenance. It's not going to be cheap in the along run and I can just imagine how the roads are going to be once all those small motorbikes are replaced by cars.

When you add higher speed, I wonder how much safer these cheap cars will be?
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Old 12-31-07, 07:14 AM   #7
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Frankly, I'm more surprised that somebody is thinking that cars will help in a society that's geared itself to not need cars in the first place. It sounds more like trying to create a market than fulfilling a need.
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Old 12-31-07, 07:56 AM   #8
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More dumpster fodder. Cheap anything ends up in the landfills and wastes resources.

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Old 12-31-07, 08:32 AM   #9
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Anyone believe the BS about how it's a service to the people... protecting them by putting them in cars?

Seems to me, he's just trying to jump-start the auto market in India, then make the profits on the backend after everyone is hooked. Just another businessperson screwing over the people.
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Old 12-31-07, 11:30 AM   #10
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People in the wealthy world love cars. I don't see any reason why we should expect people in the developing world to feel differently.

I would prefer to see Americans adopt the Tata instead of the monstrous machines they drive now. I'd like to see some figures on what worldwide oil consumption would be if Americans traded down to tiny economy cars at the same time that Indians and others are trading up to them.

BTW, I think the main reason small cars are more dangerous is because of the large cars they share the roads with. If there were no large cars, small cars would be MUCH safer.
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Old 12-31-07, 11:40 AM   #11
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People's Car? that sounds ridiculous, a design goal like that would never work.

VW?
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Old 12-31-07, 11:44 AM   #12
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Hmmm...wasn't there another country, at some time, that developed a "people's car"?
Yes- I forgot the name but it has 2 cylinders and is made in some former soviet country
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Old 12-31-07, 12:14 PM   #13
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Yes- I forgot the name but it has 2 cylinders and is made in some former soviet country
He was probably referring to the Volkswagen, which means "people's car" in German, developed in the 1930s by (Frederich?) Porsche with backing from Hitler. But there have been a number of people's car, usually an entry level model that's introduced early on as a country started to adopt automobiles. There was the Ford Model T, the Renault 2 Chevaux, Fiat, Yugo and many others. The Tata seems to be the latest.
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Old 12-31-07, 12:21 PM   #14
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I was thinking of the Trabant



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant
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Old 12-31-07, 06:36 PM   #15
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I thought he meant the Yugo
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Old 12-31-07, 06:56 PM   #16
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Yes- I forgot the name but it has 2 cylinders and is made in some former soviet country
Sounds to me like Son of Trabant.

From Wikipedia:
The Trabant is an automobile formerly produced by East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in Zwickau, Saxony. It was the most common vehicle in East Germany, and was also exported to other countries in. The main selling points were that it had room for four adults and luggage, and was compact, light and durable. Despite its poor performance and smoky two-stroke engine, the car has come to be regarded with affection as a symbol of the more positive sides of East Germany. It was in production without any significant change for nearly 30 years.

The engine for both the Trabant 500 and 601 was a small two-stroke engine with two cylinders, giving the vehicle modest performance. At the end of production it delivered 19 kW (25 horsepower) from a 600 cm³ displacement. The car took 21 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) and the top speed was 112 km/h (70 mph). There were two main problems with the engine: the smoky exhaust and the pollution it produced. They produce nine times the amount of hydrocarbons and five times the carbon monoxides of the average European car of 2007. The fuel consumption was a modest 7 liters/100 km.[2] (34 mpg (US),

The Trabant was a steel monocoque design with roof, bootlid, bonnet, fenders and doors in Duroplast, a form of plastic containing resin strengthened by wool or cotton. This helped the GDR to avoid expensive steel imports, but in theory did not provide much crash protection, although in crash tests it has actually proven to be superior to some modern small hatchbacks. The Trabant was the second car to use Duroplast, after the "pre-Trabant" P70 (Zwickau) model (1954-1959). The duroplast was made of recycled material, cotton waste from Russia and phenol resins from the East German dye industry making the Trabant the first car with a body made of recycled material.
Edit: Whoops. Shoulda read all the posts first.
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Old 01-01-08, 01:44 PM   #17
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Frankly, I'm more surprised that somebody is thinking that cars will help in a society that's geared itself to not need cars in the first place. It sounds more like trying to create a market than fulfilling a need.
From the article:
"We should be able to create a new market that does not exist," said Ratan Tata, forecasting an annual market of a million cars.

I'd say you're right - he's playing on the insecurities of the people to get them to think they need something they don't. The same strategy is used to push SUVs. Seems like a very strange time to be pushing petrol-powered cars in a country which buys 8 times more motorcycles than cars, IMO, especially given the instability of the oil market and the price hikes which result.

As for his claims of increased safety - there are few things more dangerous than drivers who think that their cars will protect them in a crash.
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Old 01-01-08, 02:19 PM   #18
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As for his claims of increased safety - there are few things more dangerous than drivers who think that their cars will protect them in a crash.
Not only that, but if he's attempting to bring in a larger vehicular standard, he'll be introducing the same sort of effect seen here in North America with the constant increase in availability of massive vehicles. People will come to the belief that they need to buy larger and larger, when its not the size alone that keeps you safe:

Its the fact that no one wants to have an SUV slam into their car at an unprotected height (head level), so they go out and.. Buy an SUV. Thats not safety for everyone, its a self-propagating danger.

If this thing picks up, the citizens who can't or won't buy one will be increasingly faced with larger, deadlier collisions, just as people are here now with morons on cell phones in giant vehicles thinking they're invincible.
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Old 01-01-08, 04:12 PM   #19
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A $2,500 car, especially a reliable car at that price, will help those who want to make the move to a car-light lifestyle.

Right now, if you're working full time at an average job and buy a new car, the price will be the same as your total earnings for six months to one year. With financing and interest, you'll pay more. Used cars are cheaper, but many are still considerably more expensive than $2,500.

A cheap car probably won't have a lot of bells and whistles. It will be basic transportation and nothing more. It becomes an ideal vehicle for those with basic needs. I see it as a step down, a transitional vehicle for someone moving towards becoming car-light and possibly car-free.
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Old 01-01-08, 05:29 PM   #20
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People's car -- Volkswagen
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Old 01-01-08, 05:49 PM   #21
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A $2,500 car, especially a reliable car at that price, will help those who want to make the move to a car-light lifestyle.

Right now, if you're working full time at an average job and buy a new car, the price will be the same as your total earnings for six months to one year. With financing and interest, you'll pay more. Used cars are cheaper, but many are still considerably more expensive than $2,500.

A cheap car probably won't have a lot of bells and whistles. It will be basic transportation and nothing more. It becomes an ideal vehicle for those with basic needs. I see it as a step down, a transitional vehicle for someone moving towards becoming car-light and possibly car-free
.
Maybe a step down in America, like compact cars were in the mid-1960s (Ramblers for $2000), or the Japanese invasion in the late 1970s (Datsuns for $3000). But for India the Tata will be a step up into a more car dependent culture. They WANT cars, just like most Americans do, and they probably won't be satisfied with the Tata. Pretty soon they'll be wanting "fancy" cars like the Kia or Toyota, and after that they'll be looking to buy the SUVs.
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Old 01-01-08, 06:11 PM   #22
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A $2,500 car, especially a reliable car at that price, will help those who want to make the move to a car-light lifestyle.

Right now, if you're working full time at an average job and buy a new car, the price will be the same as your total earnings for six months to one year. With financing and interest, you'll pay more. Used cars are cheaper, but many are still considerably more expensive than $2,500.

A cheap car probably won't have a lot of bells and whistles. It will be basic transportation and nothing more. It becomes an ideal vehicle for those with basic needs. I see it as a step down, a transitional vehicle for someone moving towards becoming car-light and possibly car-free.
Maybe .005% of the people looking to buy that car will be doing it so they can ride a bike most of the time.

With a car that cheap, more parents (assuming it's safe) will be buying cars for their kids to travel in instead of a bike or instead of carpooling to events. Public transportation will also be hurt.
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Old 01-01-08, 07:58 PM   #23
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I think the perspective of most of the people on this forum is different from that of Ratan Tata who is developing this low-cost car and who said, "That's what drove me -- a man on a two-wheeler with a child standing in front, his wife sitting behind, add to that the wet roads -- a family in potential danger,"

When you visit countries like India where whole families will load onto a motorcycle and ride it, you can understand Ratan's concern. While traveling to countries like India, I have seen so many tragic truck/car/motorcycle accidents. I have seen mothers with two children on mopeds get run over by truck and I have seen families on motocycles collide with each other. Passengers fly into the streets and into traffic. It is just terrible.

I remember for several years travelling to Taiwan where I would see a deadly motor-cycle or moped accident with my own eyes every two or three days in that country. It got to the point that I dreaded going to Taiwan because I hated seeing the carnage.

In some countries like India, China, and Taiwan the traffic is absolute mayhem. Too many vehicles all driving fast and aggressively with few people paying attention to the rules or to the traffic lights. I believe that many or most of the drivers do not even know the rules and laws of driving - this is especially true of the motorcylce riders who throng the streets. Intesections look like shot-gun blasts shooting into each other with the traffic being the bullets. It is just a terribly dangerous chaotic mess.

So, I tend to agree that in those situations where traffic is too dangerous for two wheeled vehicles, a low-cost offering for a caged vehicle would be a blessing to society.

Check this out as an example of an Indian intersection: http://youtube.com/watch?v=HgB7Y5SFLow&feature=related

Last edited by mike; 01-01-08 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 01-01-08, 08:02 PM   #24
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I think the perspective of most of the people on this forum is different from that of Ratan Tata who is developing this low-cost car and who said, "That's what drove me -- a man on a two-wheeler with a child standing in front, his wife sitting behind, add to that the wet roads -- a family in potential danger,"

When you visit countries like India where whole families will load onto a motorcycle and ride it, you can understand Ratan's concern. While traveling to countries like India, I have seen so many tragic truck/car/motorcycle accidents. I have seen mothers with two children on mopeds get run over by truck and I have seen families on motocycles collide with each other. Passengers fly into the streets and into traffic. It is just terrible.

I remember for several years travelling to Taiwan where I would see a deadly motor-cycle or moped accident with my own eyes every two or three days in that country. It got to the point that I dreaded going to Taiwan because I hated seeing the carnage.

In some countries like India, China, and Taiwan the traffic is absolute mayhem. Too many vehicles all driving fast and aggressively with few people paying attention to the rules or to the traffic lights. Intesections look like shot-gun blasts shooting into each other with the traffic being the bullets. It is just a terribly dangerous chaotic mess.

So, I tend to agree that in those situations where traffic is too dangerous for two wheeled vehicles, a low-cost offering for a caged vehicle would be a blessing to society.
It's hard to understand how adding 100 million cars to the mix will make traffic any safer.
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Old 01-01-08, 08:18 PM   #25
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It's hard to understand how adding 100 million cars to the mix will make traffic any safer.
I don't think it will help prevent accidents, but it will give the riders a better chance of surviving. Hey, if you have ever been in a bicycle or motorcyle crash you know that that any kind of a cage is better than being tossed into traffic raw in a collision.

The safest thing, of course, would be for everybody going around as pedestrians. Next best is everybody riding around in human powered vehicles like bicycle or rickshaws. Sadly, those days are gone.
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