Gianetta Palmer is a writer for CarInsurance101.com, copywriter, and essayist. Her work has appeared in EverydayHealth.com, Healthline, and The Dyrt Magazine. She is the author of Scrunchie-Fried and writes a lot about car insurance in her spare time.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Over the past several decades, the automobile industry has become larger and more efficient as global demand for new cars has skyrocketed. This has led to an overall drastic decrease in the costs of manufacturing new automobiles. Consumers today are paying lower prices than ever for new cars.

Right now, the cheapest cars in the world are available in emerging markets like China and India. The Tata Nano, the Chery QQ, and the Geely MR are three of the cheapest cars in the world. All of these cars cost only $2,500 to $5,000 for a brand new 2012 model. In contrast, the least expensive automobile currently available in the US retails for over $11,000 brand new.

Cheapest Car in the World – Tata Nano

India currently holds the record for manufacturing the cheapest car in the world. India-based automobile manufacturer Tata Motors launched the Tata Nano in 2009 for an astonishing retail price of only $2,100.

The latest version of the Nano, released in 2012, has been upgraded from the original and is slightly more expensive at $2,500. However, it is still less than 25% of the cost of the cheapest available new car in the United States. The car became more expensive due to upgrades forced by tightening of emissions and safety regulations in India.

Of course, the Nano does not come standard with some of the features that a U.S. auto buyer would expect. The four-door sedan has no airbags, no air conditioning, and no power steering. A radio or CD player is available at an extra cost. There are also some inconveniences associated with the car, such as only one side mirror and a trunk that only opens from the inside.

The Tata Nano has been fairly popular since its initial launch in 2009, but it has failed to meet its optimistic sales expectations. Many consumers opt to buy a used car at a similar price rather than a brand new Tata Nano.

Where can I buy a Tata Nano?

Currently, the Nano is available only in India. The vehicle does not meet the emissions and safety regulatory standards required by other markets. However, the company is in talks to export a version of the Nano to Europe. This version would be heavily upgraded to meet stricter European safety standards. It is estimated that the model of Nano released in Europe would retail for around $6,000.

Chery QQ Sedan

Behind India, China is the second largest market for cheap cars. Like India, China also has very low standards for safety features and emissions. This allows manufacturers to make and market less expensive cars.

The Chery QQ Sedan is the cheapest car available in China. This model was introduced in 2003 and has been popular ever since. In 2006, the Chery QQ was renamed Chery QQ3 when a second, smaller model was launched, called the Chery QQ6.

The Chery QQ line has slightly more features than the Tata Nano, with a radio and ABS brakes that come standard. The four-door sedan retails for approximately $5,000. The car has sold well; despite the manufacturer being embroiled in a patent lawsuit that claims that the Chery design was copied from General Motors.

The Chery sedan is exported to other countries. Versions of this car are also available in Iran, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Chile, Vietnam, and other countries. The models may vary slightly depending on the specific regulatory requirements of the country that they are sold in.

Geely MR

The Geely MR, also available in China, is almost as inexpensive as the Chery QQ sedan. This subcompact auto has been in production since 2000 and retails for approximately $5,500 brand new.

The Geely MR is available in both a four-door and a hatchback version. It has a slightly roomier cabin than the less expensive Chery QQ. The car also has a four-cylinder engine, as opposed to the three-cylinders on the Tata Nano and Chery QQ.

The Geely MR is also fairly gas efficient as it can get approximately 35 mpg. This car is designed for city driving and is not ideal for highways. With only 86 horsepower, the Geely MR is best kept to lower speeds. Currently, the Geely MR is not available outside of China.

While there are some astonishingly inexpensive cars available in the world, price is not the only factor to consider. It is important to remember that value is as, or more important than just retail while looking at the cost of a new car. $2,500 for a Tata Nano may seem like a good deal but one must remember that it does not offer radio, air conditioning, airbags, power steering, or many of the other features and conveniences in which American car buyers are accustomed. Comparatively speaking, an $11,000 new car available in America is a much better value than its less expensive counterparts in developing countries.