A $2,500 car…why don’t we have one?

Tata NanoOkay, I was reading one of those technology sites today — I’m a geek, so tech news rocks, what can I say? Anyway, there was this article on the Tata Nano. It’s made by Tata Motors and will be sold in India. It seats 5 and is expected to get 54 US miles per gallon.

Sounds great and the price is under $3,000. Why don’t we have a car like that in the United States? If you go to the article there’s a link to a video of the unveiling (watch with sound OFF — it’s horrible and the video is shaky) — the car is really cute — but that’s beside the point.

My point is that I’ve been reading about these new cars in Europe that are coming to the US. They all get tremendous mileage compared to American made cars (here I’m talking American brand of cars not foreign cars made in America (Honda)). So, why can’t America make a car that gets 54 miles per gallon and doesn’t cost the same as 4 years tuition for a college education? We’re supposed to be the best and yet we continue to put out cars as if there isn’t an oil crisis. We built bigger and with more bells and whistles that we don’t need, as if the environment isn’t also having a crisis. What’s wrong with us?

I’m talking not just about the industry, but you and me. They’re never going to change if we don’t stand up and say “this has got to stop, make me an ecologically sound car that gets 80 miles per gallon, that can take me and my family to school, work, and on errands.” The government recently changed the rules and now US cars have to have meet 35 miles per gallon (currently 27.5 mpg) averaged over their fleet of cars by the year 2020. What that means is that car manufacturers only have to drop their most gas guzzling model or two and hey we meet the standard, business as usual. Whoopee for the company and the heck with the consumer and the environment. And they don’t even have to do it for another 18 years.

Someone once told me that American’s don’t want hybrids or fuel efficient cars. I said, “But I know that Honda has waiting lists for their hybrids.” The response: “See, no one wants one.” “How can that be, if there’s a waiting list to get one. Obviously people are willing to wait their turn to get one.” But says he, “American’s don’t want them or there’d be more on the road.” I hope you understand that logic because I surely didn’t and still don’t. I’ve known people who waited for almost a year for their shot at a hybrid and they love the ones they have. I’d certainly get one if I could afford one, but my old Honda (over 10 years old) is still running strong and most of the time gives me better mileage than that new ruling from Congress.

It seems to me that as long as we as taxpayers, consumers, and citizens are willing to sit back and let corporations rule us, we’re never going to get out from under. I believe that if Tata’s Nano could be sold in the US — it would sell like hotcakes. Who wouldn’t want a car for under 3K that got 54 mpg. Oh, I forgot — it might not make it in an accident with those big behemoth gas guzzlers. Because, I also know that people are afraid that if they get a smaller, lighter car that gets good mileage, they might not be as safe as in the big behemoth that would probably hit them since they couldn’t see them since they’d be so much smaller in comparison. But, maybe, if we all drove the smaller more ecological and economical cars that safety factor would cancel out. [NOTE: Found a site with some safety information on the Nano -- Jan 10.]

So, I ask why can’t America come up with a decent low prices, high mileage car? Is there any other reason other than they don’t want to — because the rest of the world seems to be able to do it.