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WIFE DOTTIE ONCE said of a car that was cheap in all ways, “No one should have to take poverty this seriously.” On the other hand, if one’s family of four is currently hanging off a motorcycle in India’s chaotic traffic, she’d believe the Nissan redi-Go is a sensible upgrade. Its price range is from 2.61 Lakh (that is 261,000 Indian rupees) to 3.64 Lakh. In U.S. dollars, this is around $3870 to $5400. It’s a range that compares favorably with those of inexpensive motorcycles. And traveling within a redi-Go would seem a damnsight safer than four-on-a-bike.
Producing a car for such a low price is a challenge involving interesting tidbits of engineering philosophy. For example, an automaker might have an existing car and decide whether any of its bare bones can be left out (sort of the Colin Chapman approach with race cars). But in a small inexpensive production car, things get tacky fast. To wit, the Yugo, a cheapened Fiat sedan produced by a country ostensibly sans profit motive.
The opposite approach takes a clean sheet and invokes cost-savings from the start. India’s Tata Motors did this with its Nano. And Nissan has shown similar wisdom with the redi-Go, a car thus far available only for the same Indian home market. Indeed, according to Automotive News, August 8, 2016, Nissan worked with Hinduja Tech, a number of whose people had worked on the Nano project.
In fact, the redi-Go shares basic underpinnings with another low-price small car, the Renault Kwid. From there, each bit of redi-Go engineering started with an analysis of its functionality. Then engineers enhanced performance of the component up to a target price. Brakes, for example, are cost-saving drums, not discs. They are sized around 13-inch wheels, the target size chosen with considerations of weight and tire cost.
The redi-Go is a five-door hatchback, termed an “urban-cross” in India carspeak. It’s considerably larger than a Daimler Smart, more akin to a Fiat 500. The four-place redi-Go’s overall length is 135.0 in.; the two-seat Smart’s, 98.4 in.; the four-seat Fiat’s 139.6. The redi-Go rides on a 95.7-in. wheelbase (the Smart’s, 71.3 in.; the Fiat’s 90.6). The redi-Go stands 60.7 in., a dimension its sales brochure terms “Tall Boy Stance.” (The Fiat 500 is 59.8 in. high; the Smart is a tad more Tall Boy, at 61.0.)
Power of the redi-Go comes from a 799-cc three-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a manual five-speed transmission. An introductory press brochure cites a “peppy high torque, high performance engine.”
There are five redi-Go models: D, A, T, T(O) and S. (Are these intended to echo the sound of “Datsun”? In India, Nissan retains its original company name.) Power-assisted steering is standard on all models and, in consideration of India’s climate, air conditioning comes on all but the most basic redi-Go D. Other differentiators of redi-Go prestige include a sound system for T(O) and S, and a driver airbag for only this premium model.
There’s no video screen on the dashboard, nor any internet function. And, to paraphrase an earlier automotive legend, you can get any interior you like as long as it’s gray plastic.
On the other hand, the redi-Go gets the equivalent of 59.2 U.S. mpg in India’s fuel consumption testing. Automotive News says it’s off to a good start, with orders at 10,000 and growing. As an example, a dealer in Kollam, Kerala state, celebratred 50 redi-Go deliveries in a single day. It sure looks like a good time was had by all. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016