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Can the World Handle the World’s Cheapest Car?

9:07 AM PDT on March 25, 2009

Today the Streetsblog Network takes us to India, where some fear the recent launch of the highly-anticipated $2,000 Tata Nano -- a.k.a. the "world's cheapest car" -- will wreak havoc on the environment and already crowded public spaces. Hard Drive has the story: 

medium_tata_nano_1.jpg.jpegPhoto via Hard Drive

India’s middle class is on the rise, as is the desire to ape Western commercialism. As a result, many people still see a car ownership as a point of pride, a symbol of individual progress, despite growing problems with air quality and gridlock.

On a recent trip to India, the manager of a tire company told me many of his neighbors were putting their names into a Nano lottery to be the first to own their first car. That worried him. "The roads are beyond capacity now," he said. "How will they hold millions of more cars?"

Earlier this week, Tata Motors announced its intent to expand into European and US markets. Said company chair Ratan Tata: "This was never conceived as the cheapest car, but as providing transport to those people who never owned a car." You've been warned.

Also on the Network: Hub and Spokes reflects on keeping cities like New York affordable; Portland Transport looks into a new transit-timing tool from the makers of Walk Score; a study cited by Bicycle Fixation reveals that bike lanes are good for business; Cap'n Transit checks up on the Red Hook Tunnel Bus; and more. 

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