World’s cheapest car to be unveiled in Detroit

India’s Tata is bringing its Nano minicar to Detroit to show the Motor City what the world’s cheapest car looks like, the automaker said Wednesday.

The Nano will be unveiled at a press conference at the Detroit Science Center on Thursday just a few miles away from where Tata’s rivals will be displaying their latest wares at the Detroit auto show.

Tata said Tuesday that it is developing a version of the Nano for eventual sale in the United States but it will likely be several years before the mini car hits showrooms.

The basic Nano, a stripped-back four-door vehicle launched at the Delhi show two years ago, costs about 2,500 dollars, while the top-end model with additions such as air-conditioning and a rear wiper costs 3,700 dollars.

A U.S.-version would have a larger engine and higher safety standards.

“The innovative thinking that brought the Tata Nano to market is symbolic of what Tata Technologies has to offer the automotive industry,” said Warren Harris, president of the Michigan-based subsidiary Tata Technologies.

The Nano has sparked a race to create other ultra-low-cost cars for the Indian and other emerging markets.

French automaker Renault and its Japanese partner Nissan plan to launch a car to rival the Nano in 2012 that will be built in partnership with scooter and three-wheel specialist Bajaj Auto.

General Motors launched a new small car on Monday priced at about 7,000 dollars that will be released first in the Indian market and eventually sold in 150 countries.

Photograph by: Reuters/Tata/Handout