THE BLOG
07/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Tata Hopes to Introduce $2,300 Compact Car in U.S. in Two Years

Watch out Ford, Chrysler and GM: You could soon have another foreign car manufacturer invading your market.

Ratan N. Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, the Indian conglomerate whose Tata Motors unit introduced the highly publicized Tata Nano, a $2,300 compact car, in March, said in New York last night that he hoped to offer the car in the United States within the next two years.

Tata said the car -- which he said achieves 65 miles per gallon of gas -- "needs to meet emission and crash standards" before it can be sold in the United States.

Six years in development, the Nano is being sold in India in three models; the fully-equipped LX comes with air conditioning and power brakes, among other features.

The base model seats four adults, is 122 inches long and weighs approximately 1,300 pounds; it has a steel body and chassis, plastic bumpers and a 32-horsepower, two-cylinder engine mounted in the rear and accessed by a panel under the rear seat.

Although auto industry analysts in India question the Nano's reliability and safety, as well as Tata Motors' finances -- the company, which bought Land Rover and Jaguar from Ford last year, posted its first quarterly loss in seven years in January, and reportedly delayed payments to vendors because of cash constraints -- its chief seems undeterred.

Tata said last night the company has been "seriously looking" at biofuels, electrical power and clean diesel for vehicles.

"We've really been trying to conserve the use of hydrocarbons and remove emissions, and even looked at compressed air-powered vehicles," he said. Tata Motors, he added, "will have an electric car in the market in September."

Tata spoke at the closing session of the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Enterprise at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Other speakers included former Vice President Al Gore, who is chairman of Generation Investment Management, and H. Fisk Johnson, chairman and chief executive of S. C. Johnson & Son.