The 1-lakh car
The Washington Post
That fantasy may soon be within reach of families like Mahanan's. An Indian automaker is set to roll out the world's cheapest car early next year in what is being called a revolution by those in the industry and a nightmare by environmentalists and urban planners worried about India's already harrowing traffic and overly congested roads, not to mention lack of parking.
The manufacturer, Tata Motors, has provided few details about its new, four-door vehicle other than its sticker price: about $2,500 -- 100,000 rupees, also called 1 lakh, in Indian currency. Dubbed the "1-lakh car," it will cost half as much as the lowest-priced cars on India's roads today.
While two-thirds of the country's population still struggles on $1 a day, millions of people here have emerged from grinding poverty into the lower middle class. The Asian subcontinent's largely service-based economy has been growing 8 to 9 percent a year, and World Bank studies estimate that India's middle class will expand from 50 million people today to more than 500 million by 2025.
The Institute of Road Traffic Education recently estimated that in New Delhi alone, the number of traffic offenses is 146 million -- per day.