While the Tata Nano has yet to venture to the United States, efforts to create small, affordable cars for the masses is still hot business overseas. Piaggio, the Italian purveyor of scooters, motorbikes, and three-wheel contraptions, recently revealed its NT3 concept intended to take on the cheap car field.
The NT3 has three seats where the driver sits smack in the middle with passengers flanking both sides. It measures just 94.4 inches long, which theoretically makes it a breeze to maneuver and park in congested urban environments. During the design phase, the NT3 team turned to the Vespa and Vespa Ape pickup truck and van for inspiration. The front wheels are left open in tribute of Piaggio's scooter and motorcycle heritage. Width and height are 59 and 63 inches, respectively.
Given the NT3's physical dimensions, engine sizes remain petite. The smallest is a 0.2-liter and the next size up is a 0.3-liter. Since these are shared scooter engines, power output is expected to be on the minimalist end. The third powertrain is the hybridized setup shared with the three-wheeled Mp3 Hybrid, which has a 3.5-horsepower electric motor and 24-horsepower 0.3-liter single-cylinder engine. The hybrid NT3's top speed is around 50 mph and 19 mph in full-electric mode. Overall fuel efficiency is expected to be over 30 kilometers with a liter of fuel, or around 71 mpg in American English.
The Nano costs just $2500 in its India home, and the NT3 would undoubtedly stay within this range. It may even go on sale in Europe sometime after 2013, although emerging markets in India and Southeast Asia remain the key targets.