What do a ‘73 Volkswagen Bug, a navigation system on a new Jaguar and a brand new Nano sedan have in common? Two things: They cost about $2,500 and involve the Indian entrepreneur Ratan Tata.

Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, unveiled the world’s cheapest car — a cute five-door hatchback called Nano that’s powered by two cylinders in back, capable of running at 75 mph and costing about $2,500. Given the gas-guzzling behemoths that so many in the West feel entitled to, it would seem hypocritical to begrudge people in poor countries an affordable car. Much like the hypocrisy of the dealers who have resisted Tata’s bid for Jaguar on the grounds that Indian ownership would erode the brand’s prestige.The sad fact is that the world has changed since Americans celebrated the egalitarian breakthrough

of the Ford Model T. We know now that gas-driven automobiles do terrible damage to the environment, and the notion of loosing millions upon millions of new carbon emitters on our planet is not something to celebrate.

So while we admire Tata’s business and engineering acumen, we ardently wish that he focussed his talents elsewhere: creating transportation that is affordable and doesn’t emit ever more greenhouse gases. That would be something for the whole world to celebrate and buy. — International Herald Tribune