What Indian Carmakers Can Learn from Grameen Cellphone Ladies

Imagine pollution-free electric-powered Tata Nanos linked by cellphone networks in renewable energy-powered carshare fleets across India.

Published: 14-Jan-2008

The big news this week out of the New Delhi Auto Show was the introduction Tatas Nano, also known as the Peoples Car -- in Germany it would be called the volks wagen. Despite its tiny size and price (Rs 1.5 lakh or about US$2,500) is can carry five passengers in relative comfort. In a the booming Indian economy, its is destined to be a huge sales success.

And therein lies the problem. The Indian car market is expect to grow to twice the size of the already bloated American car market by 2050. Thats 600 million motor vehicles and if they are powered by the internal combustion engine burning some primitive fossil fuel derivative, likely coal-to-liquid given Indias sizable coal reserves, it will only accelerate global climate change -- not to mention aggravating the air pollution problems of Indias overcrowded cities.

Indians deserve the same level of mobility enjoyed by those of us in the West, but they do not need the problems that it brings.

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The Tata car could 'jam cities' and raise pollution, NGO Centre for Science and Environment warned, noting as congestion builds up and vehicles slow down, emissions increase up to five times.

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