Japanese firm to light up Tata Nano

Koito Manufacturing Co, the maker of headlamps for Lexus-brand cars, is designing lights specifically for ultra-low cost cars as it tries to win more business from India’s Tata Motors and Nissan Motor Co.

“Koito the world’s biggest maker of headlamps, is in the final stages of creating a simpler light that uses half as many parts as its more expensive models,” said President Masahiro Ohtake in an interview with Bloomberg Television. Koito and other auto parts makers are reengineering products to supply cars that will cost almost half as much as Suzuki Motor Corp.’s Maruti 800, the cheapest car currently on the Indian market.

Tata Motors will sell its $2,500 Nano later this year while Nissan plans to produce a car with the same price by 2011 for India and other emerging markets. “Koito has no choice but to push into this low-cost market as all the carmakers get into the business,” said Kunihiro Matsumoto, a senior analyst at UBS Securities Japan Ltd. in Tokyo.

“Costs won’t bump up with Koito using existing technology and cheaper labor.” The company now supplies lights for Tata’s trucks. “A low-cost car requires a headlamp design all its own,” Ohtake said.

Cars at about $3,000 are “something that is being talked about on a global level and will become a big business.” Koito is 20% owned by Toyota Motor Corp. Koito gained 4.4% to 1,414 yen at the close of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Tata unveiled the Nano in January and will begin selling the model later this year.

The company may export the car after three years, Ratan Tata, the automaker’s chairman, said in January. Nissan, France’s Renault SA and India’s Bajaj Auto said they will build a $2,500 car in India to go on sale in 2011.

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