World’s Cheapest Carmaker To Build Mini Homes

Digital Journal, May 7, 2009.

Since the mid-1990s, when the Indian economy threw open its doors to liberalization, developers in India have been channeling their energies into building gleaming high-rises, luxury condos, villas, and state-of-the-art golf courses.

And in the real estate boom that followed, the one sector that got overlooked was the low-cost housing market.

Tata, the Indian carmaker that gave the world the most inexpensive car—the $2,000 Nano—is all set to capture that segment. The company plans to build 1,000 micro apartments in Boisar, an industrial zone 30 miles north of Mumbai.

Spread over a parcel of 67-acres, the smallest of these homes would be about 227 square-feet—too small even by Manhattan standards—while the largest would be 372 square-feet.

Costing anywhere between $7,800 and $13,400 each, these units are targeted at those who make $6,000 to $10,000 annually.

But to the vast majority of India’s teeming lower middle class, they’ll be out of reach. For instance, a government chauffeur in New Delhi, with five years of service, makes roughly $1,000 a year. An auto-rickshaw driver makes a mere $600.


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