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Tata Nano launches, and you cry for the environment?

23rd March, 2009

The Tatas finally (and I mean finally) launched their low-cost car, the Nano.

A few interesting tidbits –

  1. The Nano has a small two cylinder 624cc SOHC petrol engine, and is stated to give around 22 kmpl! Whopa!
  2. CRISIL says that the Tata Nano might increase the Indian car market by as much as 65%. From the Economic Times.
  3. Its already in the Guiness Book of Records as the worlds cheapest car!
  4. The Tata Nano had one of the cheapest advertising campaigns – depending heavily on social sites like Facebook and Orkut!

But whats really intriguing is that almost every news article I read about the Nano ends with “but experts are concerned with the grave enviromental impact .. it will have”.

How Valid is that Claim?

While I can’t completely disagree with these ‘experts’, I do wonder how ‘grave’ the impact will be. When it comes to air pollution, there are a number of sources, but their contribution towards the total is something we should look at!

For example, I hit this really nice article at The Harbinger, which basically detailed that-

  1. Point sources, like power plants, manufacturing factories, and waste incinerators contribute almost 70% of some air pollutants (Nitrous Oxide)
  2. Mobile sources, like vehicles, contributed 23% to the same air pollutants.

Now I dont know what the trend is – that data was for 2001 – but certainly if we have to tackle the problem of environmental pollution we should look at the major pollutants first. That means power plants which are fuelled by coal, which are continuously spewing large amounts of toxic gases every minute of every day.

We should use the Paretto principle here, to claim that 20% of the top polluters contribute to 80% of the pollution. Dealing with these 20%, the industries and power plants, should reap much much larger benefits than dealing with the tail-end polluters, like trucks, cars, and even cigarettes (three cigarettes apparently pollute more than a diesel car)!

And I guess were doing just that – with Carbon Credits to incentivise green technology in such large industrial projects. Please, don’t beat up our poor Nano. Its a really nice car!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Dilip permalink
    22nd April, 2009 12:05 AM

    Ha! The Tata’s have been involved in environmentally dangerous projects for years.

    Here are a few
    Building a soda ash project at the worlds largest Flamingo breeding ground. Luckily after protests they pulled out

    Building a port near India’s largest Olive Ridley turtle nesting ground. They’ve refused to do a proper study

    Tata has also had a long, controversial history of environmentally disastrous projects like their disastrous soda ash plant in Mithapur in Gujarat.,prtpage-1.cms

    The Nano in itself of course will lead to increased traffic on already crowded Indian roads, and rising petrol prices.

    It would have been better if they had spent research money on coming up with a cheap electric/hybrid car.

  2. 4th May, 2009 2:48 AM

    I’m just wondering about the infrastructure. We are already crumbling under the lack of it, what will happen when all these Nanos are unleashed? Do we have parking space, do we have road space?

    Maybe I should read a bit more about it. There is no room for people in India, where will these cars go-displace the people who call the road their home and send them where? The environment has always been a concern and we’ll find a way around it, it’s the larger questions that trouble.


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