A real-life Barbie car

Get ready to buy your very own Barbie car. You'll have to go to India to buy it, though. It looks like a toy, but it works like a real car. Tata Motors of India has announced a new car that will retail for around $2,500. This car sounds perfect for the cheapskate who doesn't care about an itty bitty trunk fit for a briefcase or a motor about as powerful as the one on your riding lawn mower.

The car won't pass the emissions and safety tests it would need in order to be driven on American roads, but the company doesn't care. The car is being made for those in countries where owning a car is rare. Many in developing countries have never ridden anything other than a bike, so this mini car will be a dramatic improvement in lifestyle for them.

The Tata car will cost about half of India's current cheapest car. Engineers have gone over every single detail in this car, cutting as many costs as possible and looking for cheap alternatives to traditional auto parts. And there are no luxuries or even what we'd consider basic necessities: no power steering or windows, no air conditioning, only one windshield wiper, no digital speedometer, wheel bearings that aren't meant to be run over 45 miles an hour, lightweight materials, and a cheap engine.

For now, Tata is referring to the car as the "People's Car" until they reveal the official name of the vehicle. This company isn't the only one working on ultra-cheap cars. Renault-Nissan and Maruti Suzuki are both trying to come up with mini cars of their own.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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