India’s Tata Motors just unveiled its 100,000 rupee car today. According to today’s exchange rate, that works out to $2,551 which makes it the world’s cheapest car. Its a small car, with a 624 cc engine and seats 4 adults comfortably. (If you’ve ever sat in a rickshaw, you’d have a slightly lower standard of comfort).
This is good news of hundreds of millions of Indians who currently drive scooters and motorbikes and can now afford a car. The Nano costs about twice as much as a mid-range bike does. So you can expect it to wildly popular, especially in India and South East Asia.
Even though its very fuel efficient, at 76 miles/gallon in the petrol version (diesel version is expected to give you 92 miles/gallon) compared to the 195 miles/gallon you’d get from a scooter (& more from some bikes), its a rather large step down. This means that India’s consumption of oil is set to increase.
According to Peter Schiff‘s Global Investor Newsletter:
In 1900, we Americans were using one barrel of oil per person annually. By 1970, we were using 27 barrels per capita. At the end of World War II, Japan was using 1 barrel per person. By 1970, they were using 17. Today, China uses 1.3 barrels per person annually and India uses .7. The increased demand this similarity infers is staggering.
The standard of living for millions of Asians has been increasing dramatically over the past few years. The per capita consumption of oil is going to rise significantly as these people buy more cars and goods. If you believe that we’re at peak oil production already, this means that there is going to be a severe shortage of oil over the next years, which should lead to higher prices. Higher oil prices led to higher inflation.
According to Bloomberg, option traders are speculating that oil will hit $200/barrel in a year. While I think this is a long-shot, oil prices are likely to keep heading higher.
Oil is currently trading around $100/barrel. Why oil at the pump costs the same as when oil was $60/barrel is a bit of a mystery. Maybe the upcoming election has something to do with it? I really don’t have a clue. But so long as my Canadian Income Funds keep producing, I’m happy!