The World's Cheapest Car Debuts in India

India's Ratan Tata kept his promise to produce the world's cheapest car. Is this the start of an auto-industry revolution?

MICHAEL RUBENSTEIN / REDUX FOR TIME

Tata hopes to sell the Nano in Europe and the U.S. in just a few years.

In New Delhi in the early 1970s, my family traveled by scooter in the classic, death-defying Indian fashion. My father would drive, with me, a toddler, standing on the floorboard in front of him and my mother seated pillion, cradling my infant sister in her arms. My father was a civil engineer and my mother a nurse, and in India at that time, cars for a young family were far out of reach.

More than 30 years later, I recently listened to Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company for...

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