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Tata faces challenge to title of maker of world's cheapest car

Indian motorbike maker Bajaj Auto Ltd. is coming out with a compact vehicle, the four-wheel RE60 hatchback, whose price tag could rival that of the Tata Nano, which can go for less than $3,000.

January 04, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times
  • R.C. Maheshwari, left, president of Bajaj Auto's commercial vehicles, and Managing Director Rajiv Bajaj, stand by the RE60 during its launch in New Delhi.
R.C. Maheshwari, left, president of Bajaj Auto's commercial vehicles,… (Manish Swarup, Associated…)

Tata Motors in India now holds the honor of making the world's cheapest car, but it may soon face competition from a manufacturer in its own country.

Motorbike manufacturer Bajaj Auto Ltd. is coming out with a compact vehicle, the RE60 hatchback. Although the company didn't specify a price when it unveiled the vehicle Tuesday, chances are that it'll be cheap.

Bajaj even insisted that the RE60, which probably will be used most often in urban locales, be called a "four-wheeler" instead of a car.

The vehicle will feature a 200-cc rear-mounted gasoline engine and will be able to reach about 43 miles per hour, according to the Times of India. Bajaj, which already exports more than half the 520,000 three-wheelers it makes each year, expects the RE60 to also do brisk business abroad.

Commercial production could start in the next few months, Bajaj said. The vehicle was dreamed up by the manufacturer in conjunction with Renault and Nissan Motor Co. as a potential competitor to Tata's Nano, which often costs less than $3,000 in India.

But Bajaj eventually went on to develop the four-seat RE60 on its own and said Tuesday that its partners could abandon the vehicle if they didn't like it.

tiffany.hsu@latimes.com

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