The response to our poll on whether the Tata Nano minicar should be released in South Africa has become quite sharply politicised - hardly surprising when so many fingers are pointed at the SA government's lack of service delivery in the transport industry, be it trains, taxis or private motoring.

It was in response to our opinion column on 'World going nuts over the Nano'.

You'll find the earlier collections here and here.


I say bring 'em! The only problem is a brainless government - and its advisers! They would slap a 40 percent tax on it - resulting in it selling for about R45 000!

While on the subject of the brainless: if the government is serious about the negative effects of rising inflation in SA, why don't they remove the tax on fuels?

We are already taxed to death and the money they collect from fuel is probably only 50 ercent "effectively" used, besides the tax surplus this year is more than this tax brings!!

Now can some brainy economist work out the effects on the economy of this disinflationary/stimulating idea??



You raise a valid point re clogged traffic arteries! A related question: are you aware of any research/info regarding the effect of traffic gridlocks/jams on global warming (via increased emissions when cars idle/stand still/etc.)?



In "World Going Nuts Over Tata Nano" I was stunned to read, "However, already our roads have become clogged thanks to millions of now middle-class blacks..."

This is a very troubling statement that harks back to apartheid.

As for the Tata Nano, it seems to be a freshingly pragmatic approach to designing an inexpensive car for India. Possibly the design and building of the car is novel enough to foster a divergent approach to automotive transport, worldwide.



The article you posted is truly thought provoking, but I take serious offence at your statement "...However, already our roads have become clogged thanks to millions of now middle-class blacks becoming car-mobile - as is their right -..."

This to me borders on racism, the insinuation being that black people are not supposed to do well financially, they are not supposed to own cars because they clog the precious roads - a reserve for white masters maybe.

Further down, your scathing attack on our government where you state "...and won't be until the government gets off its butt and does something realistic about safe, affordable urban public transport..." is truly unwarranted as if nothing is being done to address the issue of public transport in the country.

What solutions have you put forward?

Link those two statement, they suggest to me, a black and proud South African who is driving, that my blackness disqualifies me to be on a South African road, a reserve for the white master, but qualifies me and urges our government to provide cheap public transport for me and other people black like to reduce the bottlenecks on the white master's highway.

Finally, whatever achievements we have attained as black people in the country were, and still are, through sweat, blood, torture, imprisonment and even death against the will of the white pseudo-masters, we demand therefore to be treated with the dignity we deserve as human beings in a free South Africa.

This is "ons vader se land" as much as it is yours.

Please retract those statements and for the record your racist lingo has no place in our country.

Howard Dimphotsebutsi Masenya

Department of Community Safety


Hell, let them in; let everybody have the option to buy - or not. We, the public, have been ripped off for years with the price of cars in this country and it is about time that the rippers got the same medicine.

The Japanese undercut the British and American car industries until the virtual collapse of the less expensive brands. Their attitude was, let them cry. Now the Chinese and Indian attitude should be the same.

The public will be the gainers.

Malcolm Rendle


I think that import duties on cars should be trebled, and import duties on all sub-550cc motorcycles and scooters should be removed. A large changeover to two-wheelers shall ease the congestion and avoid the immediate need for more and larger roadways. Much fuel shall also be saved.

Dave Coop


..."However, already our roads have become clogged thanks to millions of now middle-class blacks becoming car-mobile - as is their right..."

Your racial sarcasm is cheap, disgusting and downright tasteless. But then again, maybe there should less car-mobile blacks so that more can fill up taxis. The questions is, how safe will "your" roads be?

Vusumzi Ngxande


Though it's the cheapest car, it still has a few variants. If somebody doesn't like the base model they can opt for the high end; even that will for sure be less than the cheapest available in today's market.

Kiran Pudugu


I believe we should allow such vehicles into SA - the cheaper, the better. For far too long auto manufacturers and importers have concentrated on the top end of the market, leaving people who do not earn a great salary to struggle along with unroadworthy and elderly vehicles which are dangerous to everyone on the road!

Stephen Kane


Bring it to South Africa Please

We need cost-effective cars seeing that interest rates and petrol prices are going up every month.

Buying a car cash and not on terms would be such a financial plus for the average South African worker - we don't all get car allowances, you know.

Anthea Fortuin


Bring this car to SA. I ride a 180cc motorbike (from India) - the Bajaj Pulsar.

It was half the price of its Japanese counterparts and it's a beautiful bike. So bring in the Nano...I would like to own a car as well!

Car prices in SA are just ridiculous + you have to pay insurance!

Sheryl Halstead


Bring them on.

How about the state/local government and municipalities replacing all their pool cars with Nanos, to run to sites/clinics etc... this should be the first step where masses of these cars are seen working under really tough conditions - which will then bring some level of confidence for the rest of the market.

It will also be a huge saving for the average ratepayer who forks out approximately R70 000 for a municipal vehicle. With the Nano there could be a massive saving of R50 000 per vehicle, and in big municipalities the savings could run to millions, which could be used for upgrading infrastructure and other much needed services.

Just a thought.



This car is the solution to a particular problem, and it should be seen as such. It puts an affordable, relatively safe car in the hands of those who couldn't afford one before. This is a great idea, and I applaud Tata for being able to deliver on their promise.

Of course, it also means there needs to be more control in terms of driving licences, there should be better infrastructure, and there will be more pollution and congestion.

However, one cannot and should not blame the Nano for this, but rather find a different solution for those problems (for example, birth restrictions could sort out all this and a whole lot of other issues).

The bottom line?

Why should those who can afford to drive in their fancy SUVs or luxury saloons decide that the poor cannot also have a car? I say bring it on!

Unis Zuurmond

  • Thanks to everybody who contributed to this debate - it is now closed.