China’s Zotye Auto plans to push the price of Jiangnan Alto, the current cheapest car in China, even lower. The new entry version will sell for only 18,800 yuan, or $2,765, and rival the $2,500 Tata Nano.
The Alto microcar is presently built by two companies in China, Chang’an-Suzuki and Jiangnan Auto, the latter of which was bought by Zotye in 2007. While Chang’an has launched the latest generation Suzuki Alto which comes with more features and higher price tags, Zotye has retained the old Alto models and made them even cheaper.
Two current trims of Jiangnan Alto, powered by a 0.8-liter engine, sell for 21,800 yuan ($3,206) and 23,800 yuan ($3,500). Simply adorned, they are significantly better equipped than the $2,500 Tata Nano. Even the cheaper trim gets a radio, CD player, USB port, and air conditioner, which are skipped by the Nano.
Many people feel that the minimalist Tata Nano can hardly be called a car. Having only one exterior mirror and no bumper, it would not allowed on roads in many countries including China. The planned $2,765 Jiangnan Alto, by contrast, will be adequately equipped and could thus be truly the world’s cheapest car.
It is another question, though, if a cheaper car can get more buyers. Chery once tried to sell a stripped-down version of QQ–one of the most popular microcars in China–for less than $44,000 each, but did not even receive enough orders to start production.
(a 2008 Jiangnan Alto, from which the $2,765 model will be derived)