From Cheap Cars to Cheap Housing

The Indian discount automaker Tata is now venturing into home production, building 1,000 apartments near Mumbai with prices starting at $7,800.
May 20, 2009, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Tata's housing division is targeting a segment of the market that was largely overlooked during the housing boom. India's builders were concentrating on building shiny new high rises and mansions on golf courses. Builders were after profits, but they were also trying to justify their fast-accelerating land costs, especially in and around Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) and other major cities.

But some business consultants (most prominently, C.K. Prahalad) were arguing that companies would profit handsomely if they target the "bottom of the pyramid" where the bulk of consumers are. It looks like Tata is taking that advice.

Luxury flats in Mumbai can cost more than ones in Manhattan. But these apartments won't be luxurious. The Tata apartments will be built on 67 acres in Boisar, an industrial area where many lower-wage commuters already rent. These apartments will be absolutely tiny. The carpeted area of the smallest units will be 218 square feet, too small even for most Manhattanites. The largest units would be about 373 square feet (Click here to see the floor plans)."

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Published on Thursday, May 7, 2009 in Business Week
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