Monday, March 22, 2010


And we thought Toyota has a problem?

by Larry Geller


This article from Engadget caught my eye: Tata Motors' Nano lights up the streets of Mumbai (3/22/2010). And then the remark: “According to Indian Autos Blog, the manufacturer is particularly well known for its combustible motorcars these days….”

It seems the new car was being delivered by the Tata Motors dealership and the driver didn’t know the car was on fire (the engine is in back) until a motorcyclist zipped ahead with this important information.

I wonder if these will be recalled.

Maybe not. For all of our traveling, we never made it to India. In Burma, though, we ran into this external combustion engine thing.

The the most common form of motor transport back then was a tiny three-wheeled taxi in which the driver sat in the front, the engine crosswise behind him, and we two passengers, sitting on the sideways wooden seats bent over because the roof was so low, behind that. It was noisy and hot, and because the roads were not paved, it was dusty, but hey, it worked and was the only way to get to places off the tourist route.

The guidebooks warned that these vehicles often caught fire. If that happened, the driver would pull over to the side of the road and people would throw sand on the engine to put out the fire. Ok.

So we were prepared when we were roaring along that day and the engine, just a few inches in front of us, caught fire.

What you are supposed to do is let the driver know, so he can pull over to the side of the road. That’s what we did. He pulled over, we hopped out with our camera bags and watched as people threw sand on the engine to put out the fire. Just like the guidebook said it would happen.

Another vehicle nearby took us on to our destination.

Just an average day, an average little vehicle fire, in Burma.

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