There’s a fair amount of anticipation in advance of this week’s introduction of the People’s Car in India by Tata Motors. The major selling point is the $2500 price tag. It’s certainly not going to be a luxury ride, we’re talking very basic transportation here but the 600cc 4 seater could have a major impact on the motor vehicle market in India, perhaps in other countries, too.
Currently, car ownership in India is 8 per 1000 and Tata sees that number as a huge opportunity:
Tata Motors’ drive to produce a cheap, no-nonsense, small car was born from close observation of a local market where millions often ferry families of four, plus baggage, on motorbikes and scooters.
Which brings up the point of motorcycles being utilitarian only until their owners can afford to do better. Though some riders elsewhere like to point out the utility and economy of their motorcycle, cars win out very quickly as soon as the price becomes close and motorcycles revert to their primary appeals of fun, excitement and recreation. If you try to sell motorcycles as a way to save money on gas you might win a few people over, for a while, but, if even in India, a country known for millions of people riding inexpensive small displacement motorcycles, we see any appreciable inroads by Tata, you can clearly see that motorcycles don’t fit into the utility category except in very limited circumstances.
I addressed this issue before at some length when commenting on Vietnam’s move toward cars along with the idea of a transportation hierarchy and some of you brought up the points of what happens when all of those previous riders are stuck in a traffic jam with their new cheap autos. Well, I don’t know, but we may soon find out and the results could be interesting.