Our Maruti 800 Found Living In China As Jiangnan TT
Our country’s “first people’s car“, the car we all love for its simplicity and mass acceptance – Maruti 800 – has been dead and gone for quite a spell in the Indian market, but it has been found living somewhere under a different name with little disguise, probably not even knowing her true parentage! Sold in China as Jiangnan TT, this cutie pie is the cheapest car available in their market, as it was the case in India for at least three decades. Jiangnan mainly targets lower-income countryside buyers in smaller cities, to whom status out of car doesn’t really matter. But dwindling demand for this simple and iconic models suggests that the car may not last long forever in the market.
As reported by Tycho De Feijter of Forbes.com, the Jiangnan TT is now sold with an inclusive dealer discount of 5,000 yuan for a total 15,800 yuan (INR 1.67 Lakhs), much less than a base model Tata Nano in India. This is likely to be the cheapest car in the world right now. Jiangnan Auto is the subsidiary of Zotye Automobiles, the company that is well-reputed for creating ‘carbon-copy’ models of global cars. It often buys tooling kits of discontinued cars to make cheap cars for the Chinese market.
Predictably, the TT is powered by a 0.8-liter three-cylinder petrol engine producing 36 hp and 60 Nm of max power and torque. Paired to a 4-speed manual gearbox, the tiny hatchback can hit a top speed of 120 kmph, with an average mileage of 19.23 kms per litre of fuel. Air-conditioning and radio is available.
Just like the technical specifications, the exterior design of the TT are no different to our Maruti 800 except for the rood rails and awkward-looking plastic spoiler flaking the rear windshield. Right from the body panels to bumpers, headlamp units to steel rims, everything looks the same as 800 (which actually is a second-gen 1984-88 Suzuki Alto). Inside, the dashboard layout and design is different, with a four-spoke steering wheel and wood-finish centre console. Jiangnan has added a single cup holder in between the seats.
Jiangnan basically targets lower-income countryside buyers in smaller cities, to whom status out of car doesn’t really matter. But Tycho De Feijter predicts that the car may not last long, as the sales are dwindling, evident from the high discounts offered by the dealers.
In India too, the Maruti 800 lost its sheen in its final days due to ‘status crisis’ among its buyers, and the company cleverly phased it out to make way for the new Alto 800. Yet, the car has never lost its appeal completely among our folks; the 800s still command solid resale values in the used car market even today in spite of being an archaic and tiny car. There are takers for it. Ever wondered why Maruti 800 did not suffer so much as Tata Nano for being the “cheapest car”??
Jiangnan TT – Image Gallery
Photo Credits: Tycho de Feijter (Forbes), Auto Sohu, Chinamobili, China Car News