This is the Tata Nano based 0.5-tonne pick-up truck scheduled for Indian market introduction next year. Codenamed Penguin (it looks like a penguin too, doesn’t it?), the bird’s four wheeled namesake will compete with the just launched Mahindra Gio – a simple two-seat machine powered by a 441cc direct injection two-pot diesel.
The Tata is reported to be powered by a 350cc one-cylinder diesel engine, not likely to top the Gio’s 55km/h top speed, 9.5bhp and 21Nm of torque. The Penguin uses proven simple and cost saving techniques from the Nano like a single windshield wiper, three wheel lugs, scooped out dashboard and short wheelbase. The engine is mounted at the rear axle, so it doesn’t need a propeller shaft.
There will be plenty of mocking, but I think that these low cost machines are perfect for the intended market and a logical development from three-wheel auto rickshaws and bullock carts currrently used to ferry anything from manure to gas cylinders. The modest performance is adequate in bustling Indian cities, where initial acceleration from rest is more important than an 80km/h cruise speed. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve visited Delhi or Mumbai before.