NEW DELHI (AP) _ Indian automaker Tata Motors is on track to
begin selling an ultra-cheap small car next year, a top executive
Managing director Ravi Kant, however, acknowledged that higher
costs may make it difficult to stick to the targeted price of
US$2,400, or 100,000 rupees.
Steel and rubber prices have risen sharply in the past three
years since company chairman Ratan Tata first announced a
Kant did not say whether the company would revise the price.
``Wait for the launch,'' he told reporters.
``We will launch the car sometime next year,'' Kant said,
addressing speculation that the project could be delayed by new
costs and political unrest last year at its new plant in eastern
Auto makers from around the world are keenly watching progress in
the Tata project, which analysts say could set new price benchmarks
and force other manufacturers to follow suit.
Already, French auto maker Renault SA and its Japanese partner,
Nissan Motor Co., are trying to determine if they can sell a compact
car for less than $3,000.
Renault has said it is talking to some Indian manufacturers,
including auto rickshaw manufacturer Bajaj Auto, about a possible
Japan's Toyota Motor Corp., South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. and
Chinese auto maker Chery could also be looking to make ultra-cheap
cars in India, according to Craig Cather, chief executive of German
auto consulting firm CSM Worldwide.
``A lot of companies are buying into this segment,'' Cather said.
India is among the world's fastest-growing automobile markets,
thanks to a booming economy that has boosted middle class incomes
and spurred demand for cars. India also is emerging as an export hub
for small cars.