Fuel economy no image

Published on March 23rd, 2010 | by Nick Chambers

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Tata Nano is Developing a Bad Habit: Bursting Into Flames

“World’s cheapest car” it’s been called, and unquestionably the Tata Nano has brought about a revolution in India. In carving out a niche as an affordable, simple, and incredibly fuel efficient car for the average folk in poorer nations like India, it has also sparked a change within the global auto industry to the point where Toyota, Nissan, Ford and many other major players are now trying to compete with the Nano in this new ultra-cheap minicar segment.

But along with that, the Nano is also, quite literally, sparking something else: Over the last year, a list of Nanos that have an apparent bad habit of spontaneously combusting has been growing in India — the latest one involving a minutes-old Nano being driven home by its proud new owner. And as you can see in the above pic, that car is toast.

Sheesh. I knew Tata had recently introduced a hot pink version of the Nano, but I don’t believe you can get any more flaming than actual flames. Badumpbump. I’ll be here all night. Seriously though, spontaneous combustion beats the pants off of “unintended acceleration” any day.

Even though Tata has accomplished an amazing feat with the Nano, being the world’s cheapest car does not excuse it from having the potential to kill its occupants in a blazing inferno. There’s a good reason we pay so much money for safe cars these days. When you strip a car down to its bare essentials and cut as many corners as you can to save money, sure everybody can afford it, but will they want to if it turns out they have a good chance of ending up in a body bag?

Tata says they are investigating this “unique case,” but the fact of the matter is, since its introduction last year there have been at least three other reported cases of flaming Nanos. Initially blamed on getting the kinks of production worked out, the Nano is now a year old and it is still presenting these niggling problems. Its not that I don’t wish Tata success, I just question whether or not building the world’s cheapest car will ever result in a safe car as well?

Maybe that question doesn’t matter and maybe I’m imposing my richer-nation bias on the situation. Perhaps a few flaming cars here and there will prove acceptable to a country that is lusting after vehicles they can actually afford? After all, how will they ever become a country of “haves” unless they start somewhere? But if I had a choice between buying a car that could be engulfed in a fireball and using public transportation, biking or walking, the choice would be clear. I think one of my new year’s resolutions was “not melting.”

Source: Indian Autos Blog (via CarAdvice via AutoExpress)


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About the Author

Not your traditional car guy.



  • Frugal Sun

    Remember Toyota?

    Turned out to be the drivers fault?

    Remember Ford?

    Largest car recall in history.

    http://www.worldcarfans.com/109101422405/ford-agree-largest-recall-in-history—45-million-vehicles

    Theres been only 4 incidents, out of which we are still awaiting the prognosis of an actual “flame bursting” incident.

    Lets not jump the gun here.

  • Frugal Sun

    Remember Toyota?

    Turned out to be the drivers fault?

    Remember Ford?

    Largest car recall in history.

    http://www.worldcarfans.com/109101422405/ford-agree-largest-recall-in-history—45-million-vehicles

    Theres been only 4 incidents, out of which we are still awaiting the prognosis of an actual “flame bursting” incident.

    Lets not jump the gun here.

  • Planet Automatic

    Owner doesnt drive AND is an insurance agent?

    Hmmm. Sounds fishy.

  • Planet Automatic

    Owner doesnt drive AND is an insurance agent?

    Hmmm. Sounds fishy.

  • Planet Automatic

    Owner doesnt drive AND is an insurance agent?

    Hmmm. Sounds fishy.

  • Bob

    For those with “unintended acceleration”, try shifting into neutral, for crying out loud!

  • Bob

    For those with “unintended acceleration”, try shifting into neutral, for crying out loud!

  • Bob

    For those with “unintended acceleration”, try shifting into neutral, for crying out loud!

  • Tim Cleland

    “Remember Toyota?

    Turned out to be the drivers fault?”

    That one incident turned out to be the driver’s fault (I assume you’re talking about the Prius guy). The issue of unintended acceleration is still very real…I don’t think the 34 fatal accidents were people out for attention or a law suit.

  • Tim Cleland

    “Remember Toyota?

    Turned out to be the drivers fault?”

    That one incident turned out to be the driver’s fault (I assume you’re talking about the Prius guy). The issue of unintended acceleration is still very real…I don’t think the 34 fatal accidents were people out for attention or a law suit.

  • Maybe not for the US

    Pinto anyone?

  • Maybe not for the US

    Pinto anyone?

  • Maybe not for the US

    Pinto anyone?

  • Maybe not for the US

    Pinto anyone?

  • http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/posts/ Neil Blanchard

    If it is something that is causing a new car to burn, then they should be able to find the cause?

    The NY Prius crash (where they drove into a stone wall) was determined to be the driver’s fault: http://green.autoblog.com/2010/03/23/local-police-agree-runaway-prius-in-ny-caused-by-driver-error/

    Sincerely, Neil

  • http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/posts/ Neil Blanchard

    If it is something that is causing a new car to burn, then they should be able to find the cause?

    The NY Prius crash (where they drove into a stone wall) was determined to be the driver’s fault: http://green.autoblog.com/2010/03/23/local-police-agree-runaway-prius-in-ny-caused-by-driver-error/

    Sincerely, Neil

  • http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/posts/ Neil Blanchard

    If it is something that is causing a new car to burn, then they should be able to find the cause?

    The NY Prius crash (where they drove into a stone wall) was determined to be the driver’s fault: http://green.autoblog.com/2010/03/23/local-police-agree-runaway-prius-in-ny-caused-by-driver-error/

    Sincerely, Neil

  • Vivek Yadav

    such drama is obvious from competitor manufacturers who are also trying hard to develop an answer for nano.. If a person is assured of getting free publicity along with handsom rewards (from other manufacturer) will get ready for this drama immediatly.. Feel shame doing such thing with a manufacturere that always thinks of masses be it busses or trucks or sumo… all for masses.

  • Vivek Yadav

    such drama is obvious from competitor manufacturers who are also trying hard to develop an answer for nano.. If a person is assured of getting free publicity along with handsom rewards (from other manufacturer) will get ready for this drama immediatly.. Feel shame doing such thing with a manufacturere that always thinks of masses be it busses or trucks or sumo… all for masses.

  • Surendra

    Time to reload the Nano with the Fiat Multijet!!!

  • Surendra

    Time to reload the Nano with the Fiat Multijet!!!

  • Surendra

    Time to reload the Nano with the Fiat Multijet!!!

  • douglas prince

    It could be the Indians were just anticipating the needs of the Buddhist market. “Why the big show for Self-Immolation? Just take a spin to the market and kill two birds with one stone!”

    Seriously, I’ll bet the guys over at BYD all have shit-eating grins on their faces right now.

  • douglas prince

    It could be the Indians were just anticipating the needs of the Buddhist market. “Why the big show for Self-Immolation? Just take a spin to the market and kill two birds with one stone!”

    Seriously, I’ll bet the guys over at BYD all have shit-eating grins on their faces right now.

  • douglas prince

    It could be the Indians were just anticipating the needs of the Buddhist market. “Why the big show for Self-Immolation? Just take a spin to the market and kill two birds with one stone!”

    Seriously, I’ll bet the guys over at BYD all have shit-eating grins on their faces right now.

  • Shamim Khan

    Its is extremely saddening that even after contributing so much to really make India shine on a global platform, back home, it is the easiest to blame Tata’s capabilities for everything that is wrong.

  • Shamim Khan

    Its is extremely saddening that even after contributing so much to really make India shine on a global platform, back home, it is the easiest to blame Tata’s capabilities for everything that is wrong.

  • Shamim Khan

    Its is extremely saddening that even after contributing so much to really make India shine on a global platform, back home, it is the easiest to blame Tata’s capabilities for everything that is wrong.

  • hari

    I think Tata will lead the way for better car makers to make better affordable cars – once the market is established – thats a job they will accomplish. I like Tata Salt, steel, software, hotels, telecom etc and their values – but not their automobiles. Indian roads are jammed as a result of Tata low powered vehicles for long now. There is a cost to that, which we do not see but pay.

  • hari

    I think Tata will lead the way for better car makers to make better affordable cars – once the market is established – thats a job they will accomplish. I like Tata Salt, steel, software, hotels, telecom etc and their values – but not their automobiles. Indian roads are jammed as a result of Tata low powered vehicles for long now. There is a cost to that, which we do not see but pay.

  • hari

    I think Tata will lead the way for better car makers to make better affordable cars – once the market is established – thats a job they will accomplish. I like Tata Salt, steel, software, hotels, telecom etc and their values – but not their automobiles. Indian roads are jammed as a result of Tata low powered vehicles for long now. There is a cost to that, which we do not see but pay.

  • hari

    I think Tata will lead the way for better car makers to make better affordable cars – once the market is established – thats a job they will accomplish. I like Tata Salt, steel, software, hotels, telecom etc and their values – but not their automobiles. Indian roads are jammed as a result of Tata low powered vehicles for long now. There is a cost to that, which we do not see but pay.

  • http://Web midnightfapper

    i’m highly suspicious of these claims of spontaneous combustion. it appears one of tata’s competitors is trying to sabotage them.

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