Images: courtesy Tata Motors

The Tata Nano, on display now through April at the Cooper-Hewitt, looks a lot like a Smart Car, though it’s sold for about a fifth of the price. The Nano is billed as “the People’s Car,” mostly because it retails for around $2,500, and while it’s currently designed, built, and marketed exclusively in India, Tata expects to roll out versions for the European market as early as 2011. It’s likely that the versions of the Nano sold in Europe, and eventually in America, will look more like the car displayed at the Cooper-Hewitt than the ones that have become popular in India; the yellow Nano in the museum’s lobby is the LX version, an upgraded model that has retained many of the features—air conditioning, leather seats, a music system—that were jettisoned to keep down costs in the original.  The luxury version is still relatively bare-bones, but a fuel economy of around 54 mpg might make the Nano attractive even to skeptical American consumers.

Quicktake: Tata Nano—The People’s Car is on view in New York at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, until April 25.

View more images of the Nano after the jump.



An early study, from 2003



A rendering of the interior of the base model, from 2007


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