a stream of executives and engineers has been visiting Tata Technologies in Novi, Mich., to see the Nano, the 10-foot-long, five-passenger car the engineering consultant helped its affiliate Tata Motors develop.
Tata Tech has also lent the car to manufacturers so more engineers can get a close look.
"It's a very useful calling card," said Tata Tech engineering and design chief Kevin Fisher.
Industry veterans don't believe it's possible to make a $2,500 car until they walk around the Nano.
Nearly 2 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper, Nano was developed as India's version of the Ford Model T, the affordable car that put a country on wheels.
The visitors don't necessarily plan to build a car for the Nano's price. They want to apply Tata's "frugal engineering" philosophy to their product lines.
"It's a thought process," Fisher said. "You start from scratch and ask, 'What do I really need?'"
Nano development began when Tata Chairman Ratan Tata decided the company that bears his name should provide a better, safer alternative to the motorbikes that frequently carry families in India.
"Ratan Tata said, 'If we start from zero and build up, how much can we get for $2,000?'" said Kevin Power, a manager at Tata Tech.
"That was the philosophical basis of the design.
Other automakers tend to start with an existing vehicle and take stuff out to reduce the price."
Tata Competitors Flock to Study Nano Design
| by Levent Ozler
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