Year
2008
Month Day
January 10

World’s cheapest car debuts in India

On this day in 2008, at the New Delhi Auto Expo in India, Tata Motors debuts the Nano, billing it as the world’s cheapest car: The anticipated price tag is around $2,500. Tata, India’s largest automaker, called the four-door, bubble-shaped mini-vehicle (it was just 5 feet wide and 10 feet long) the “People’s Car” and declared that it would be a vehicle for families who previously hadn’t been able to afford a car. (At the time, it wasn’t uncommon to see an entire family precariously packed onto a single motorbike.)

The Nano was originally scheduled to go on sale in October 2008; however, production delays arose because of a land dispute in West Bengal, where the car’s production plant was being built. The company opted to move its production facilities to another part of India and the Nano officially went on sale across the country in April 2009. The basic model carried a starting price of approximately $2,000 (not including taxes) and came without a radio, air conditioning, airbags, power steering or power windows. It had a body made of plastic and sheet metal and a 32-horsepower, 624cc two-cylinder rear-mounted engine, and it could reach speeds of 65 miles per hour. In another nod to cost-cutting, the car had just one windshield wiper.

Tata received more than 203,000 pre-orders for the Nano–a strong number, especially considering that at the time there were only about nine cars for every 1,000 people in India. However, because Tata was only able to produce an initial run of 100,000 Nanos, the cars’ first owners were chosen by lottery. The Nano was initially sold only in India, although Tata said it eventually intended to launch the car in other parts of the world.

Tata Motors is part of the Tata Group, one of India’s largest and oldest business conglomerates. And Tata does not just make inexpensive cars: In March 2008, the company purchased the venerable British brands Jaguar and Land Rover from the Ford Motor Company for $2.3 billion.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

First meeting of the United Nations

The first General Assembly of the United Nations, comprising 51 nations, convenes at Westminster Central Hall in London, England. One week later, the U.N. Security Council met for the first time and established its rules of procedure. Then, on January 24, the General Assembly ...read more

League of Nations instituted

On January 10, 1920, the League of Nations formally comes into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, takes effect. In 1914, a political assassination in Sarajevo set off a chain of events that led to the outbreak of the most costly war ...read more

Gusher signals start of U.S. oil industry

On January 10, 1901, a drilling derrick at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas, produces an enormous gusher of crude oil, coating the landscape for hundreds of feet and signaling the advent of the American oil industry. The geyser was discovered at a depth of over 1,000 feet, ...read more

President Harding orders U.S. troops home from Germany

Four years after the end of World War I, President Warren G. Harding orders U.S. occupation troops stationed in Germany to return home. In 1917, after several years of bloody stalemate along the Western Front, the entrance of America’s fresh, well-supplied forces into the Great ...read more

President Johnson asks for more funding for Vietnam War

On January 10, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson asks Congress for more money to support the Vietnam War. Lyndon’s War, a war Johnson actually inherited from President John F. Kennedy, had achieved nothing by 1967. The North Vietnamese use of guerrilla warfare tactics resulted ...read more

FDR introduces the lend-lease program

On January 10, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt introduces the lend-lease program to Congress. The plan was intended to help Britain beat back Hitler’s advance while keeping America only indirectly involved in World War II. As Roosevelt addressed Congress, the Battle of Britain was in ...read more

Outlaw Frank James born in Missouri

Franklin James, the lesser-known older brother of Jesse, is born in Clay County, Missouri. Frank and Jesse James were both legends in their own time, though Jesse is better remembered today because of his more dramatically violent death. The two Missouri brothers drifted into a ...read more

AOL-Time Warner formed

On January 10, 2000, in one of the biggest media mergers in history, America Online Inc. announces plans to acquire Time Warner Inc. for some $182 billion in stock and debt. The result was a $350 billion mega-corporation, AOL Time Warner, which held dominant positions in every ...read more

Avalanche kills thousands in Peru

On January 10, 1962, an avalanche on the slopes of an extinct volcano kills more than 4,000 people in Peru. Nine towns and seven smaller villages were destroyed. Mount Huascaran rises 22,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains. Beneath it laid many small Peruvian ...read more