Friday, January 11, 2008

Tata Nano - safe to drive in developing countries

I happen to see this picture about the new released Tata nano. It was a little shocked to see "Plastic and adhesive replaces welding"... o.o., how can this pass the crash test for safety?

Then I did a little more research, and found out, this is only for the model sold in developing countries, in which people won't drive that fast to cause fatal crash. That explains. It is too cheap to believe: $2500. The good news is, it meets European emmission standars. Although the environmental activists protested for the pollution concern since this would allow a lot more Indians to own a car, to look at the bright side of the picture, it at least shows the manufacturer's respect on today's 'global warming' concern.

This reminds me the yellow taxi that had served many years in many cities in China in 1990s. I do not know which company produced it, we call it 'Mian di ()', or 'Huang Chong (yellow bug)'. We used to love it, since 10 yuan can take six persons go 10 kilometers. It was also big enough and convenient for moving. Just in Beijing, there were 100,000 of them for a period of time. I know the safety was a big issue for this car, people told me it was just like four wheels + an engine + a cardboard box on top.

Before the end of 1998, all these kind of taxi were removed from the Beijing's street. There were no more 1 yuan per km taxi any more on the streets. The main reason was pollution rather than safety. It is true that when driving speed is not high, the possibility of fatal auto crash is limited. Tata is wise in making a green car.

When Tata unveiled its nano and attracted the world's attention, it is my best wish to see that Chinese auto companies some day would also stand up proudly to show the world a total made in China model. It seems that most Chinese auto companies are copy cat, good at reverse engineering. Look at all these facts:

1. In 2003, Toyota Motor Corp. sued Hangzhou-based Geely Group Co. for copying the Japanese company's logo and slapping it on Geely models. Toyota lost the case.
2. Honda Motor Co. won a ruling that bars Chongqing Lifan Industrial from selling motorcycles under the "Hongda" brand.
3. Honda is also suing Shuanghuan Automobile Co., saying the Chinese company's Laibao SRV is a copy of the Honda CR-V sport-utility vehicle.
4. GM Daewoo filed suit in a Shanghai court alleging that Chery Automobile Co. stole its trade secrets to make the QQ.
... ...

Some new information:
India has 8 per cent of the world’s vehicle fatalities and less than 1 per cent of its cars, with more than 90,000 people killed on the country’s roads every year. Introducing a million Nanos into the mix may bring more – and unwelcome – headlines.

What I would like to see, is Tata can somehow invest on public transportation. When people are densely populated, it really make more sense to take buses or trains than drive your own cars. Who can push this to happen in both China and India?

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