Ratan Tata is a rich, powerful industrialist but that's not so unusual in India these days. As head of Tata industries, his empire extends from the world's second-largest tea business to giants in steel, software and hotels. But Tata may make his biggest mark with his next project: a super-cheap car, set to debut in 2008, that will put motoring within reach of millions of Indians who currently can't afford it. The car, which will probably start at about $2,500, will be rear-engined and carry four adults comfortably, say Tata executives. Initially Tata Motors hopes to sell some 200,000 a year, though with exports that could eventually rise closer to a million. Just where all those cars are going to fit on India's already-crowded roads has India's élites chattering. That's for the government to fix, says Tata. And anyway, why should only the rich get to drive?
By Simon Robinson
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