CNN and the Associated Press report that Ratan Tata has unveiled his $2,500 car and dubbed it the Nano, but critics say the Smart Car look-alike is thumbing its snub nose at efforts to reduce global warming.
Climate change experts are not persuaded by Mr. Tata's claims that the Nano will meet Indian and European emission standards. By adding millions more vehicles to India's already clogged roads, the Nano will idle in traffic jams and belch tons of additional greenhouse gases into the planet's already overtaxed atmosphere.
Chief U.N. climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize, is not the only one "having nightmares" about the prospect. The Asian Development Bank says that in 2005, Indian vehicles released 219 million tons of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, but by 2035, that number is projected to increase to 1,467 million tons, due largely to the expanding middle-class and the expected rise of low-cost cars.
Yesterday Houston Chronicle business columnist Loren Steffy noted another negative impact: though the Nano, with its lawn-mower size engine, may get 50 miles per gallon, "even the addition of several hundred million lawn mowers" to the road will so increase the demand for oil that the $2,500 car could easily drive the price of oil to $200 per barrel.