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Renault looking to build an upmarket rival to the Tata Nano, but it will still be very cheap

Making an incredibly expensive car can really be quite a challenge. The technology and engineering precision required to justify a price tag in the hundreds of thousands of dollars is quite a thing to pull off. But what’s interesting is that building an incredibly cheap car is quite difficult as well. It is akin to walking a tightrope, keeping costs low while simultaneously trying to make a product that people actually want to buy. Thus far, it seems that the folks at Tata have erred a bit on the side of cheap, as the sales of their $2,500 Nano have been anything but spectacular. It seems that when the only draw of a particular vehicle is that it’s cheap, even those in emerging markets will have a hard time getting excited about it.

So now, according to India’s CarTrade, Renault is looking to tweak this idea with a pair of vehicles of their own. The cars will be built with Nissan help and will cost $3,888 and $6,400, and will presumably offer a slightly more appealing, albeit still cheap, alternative to the Nano. This is something which Renault nearly tried before, through a partnership with Bajaj Auto, a rival Indian automaker. But that deal never bore fruit, and any mention of Bajaj Auto was absent from this most recent announcement. What was mentioned was that the new cars would debut in 2014, which happens to be the same year that Nissan said would see the re-launch of their Datsun sub-brand.

The Datsun brand will have a different role than it did before, and will be sold only in emerging markets. The thinking which goes into making cars for these markets is so completely different from how cars are tailored for other markets that they will always be a big challenge for companies like Renault-Nissan. But more significant is the fact that, right now, it’s still not entirely clear what makes a car sell in countries like India. The Nano seemed logical, but slow sales prove that it might be a while before a truly successful automotive formula is discovered.

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