>Tata Motors: Another Wake-Up Call for the Auto Industry

>Four Wheels for the Masses: The $2,500 Car (NYT)

This is a great article! It hits the entire global auto industry. In doing so, I think it also communicates an important message: automakes need to focus on affordability, safety, and environmentally-sound engineering.

The Japanese:
Kanban: Just-in-Time delivery of parts. This is what helped Asia automakers overcome U.S. automakers. Plants did not need to keep huge amounts of inventory in stock. It arrived as they needed it. This also helped make more efficient parts. If problems were found, they could be fixed quickly, without leaving huge amounts of defective inventory in stock.

Kaizen: Continuous Improvement meant that production managers were continuously looking for ways to improve the process. This eliminated the painting of parts of components that no one saw, for example, saving paint costs.

These two characteristics have become part of all automakers habits, no longer just within Japanese companies.

What Tata Motors has done has thrown current protocols out the window and started from fresh.

Automakers that poo-poo this notion should be careful. There are a lot of people in this world, Indians and Chinese that cannot afford most vehicles, but would probably happily pay $2,500-$3,000 for a car like this.

I would suspect that some segments of the American population would also purchase such a vehicle. Look at the Toyota Echo, the Scion brand, the new compact offerings of Nissan, the Chevy Aveo, and new this year in the United States, the SMART car.

I can see where people would rather drive an inexpensive auto and use the savings for other things, retirement, education, medical expenses, or just paying off individual debt.

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