The world's cheapest car, Tata Nano, made a two-hour stop over near Chicago before heading off to Detroit, where it would be on display for the US audience for the first time this week.
The 'Champagne Gold Nano LX' with a licence plate number MH04 ED 7015, on loan from Tata Technologies' Centre for Advanced Engineering and Design in Pune broke its journey from Denver, Colorado, to Detroit at the Judson University in Elgin near here yesterday.
The car had 'Better Innovation', the event for which it is headed to Detroit, painted in bold letters on its side.
About 200 people, including Judson students, government officials and residents gathered to see what the world's cheapest car looks like.
"We wanted to share with the people the story of Tata Nano and Tata Group Chief Ratan Tata's vision for an affordable family transportation," Tata Technologies Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Noe told PTI.
Noe said Nano reached the US on January 1 this year. It left from Tata Technologies' office in Denver, Colorado yesterday and would reach Detroit early tomorrow.
The Nano got an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience at Judson with "everyone asking when it would be available in the US".
People also sat in the car "to get feel of its features and technology" and had a lot of queries about its safety and emission standards, Noe said.
However, the one thing people were most amazed by was the "interior room of the Nano".
"From a 350 pound (about 159 kg) person who sat in the car to a man over 6 feet tall, they all had one question - how can a car as small as the Nano accommodate such weight and height".
Noe added that for the Nano to enter the US market, it would have to meet the safety standards of the country.
It would also needs to pass the emissions standards in order for it to be on the highways and byways of America.
"It is going to have to pass a series of safety standards and I would assume air bags would be one of them," Noe added.
Noe, a trustee at the Judson University, said the campus was chosen as a stopover venue for the Nano since he wanted to get a feedback from the architectural students on the car's design and engineering.
More importantly, "since Ratan Tata has a degree in architecture, we displayed the Nano in the architectural building of the University."
Noe explained to his Judosn audience that the 10 feet long, 5 feet wide vehicle gets 50 miles per gallon in the city and approaches about 70 miles per gallon on the highway.
It has a steel frame, sheet metal body and safety glass that every other car has on the road. It has a 624cc rear mounted engine and the emissions exceed regulatory requirements.
"It looks small on the outside but once you sit inside you go, wow. You sit up high in the seats, you have good visibility out the front of the car. So even though it is very small, you can see what is going on around you," he said.
Tata Technologies, part of the Tata Group, will display the Nano on January 14 during a press meet at the 'Better Innovation' event in the Detroit Science Center.
The event will coincide with the Detroit Auto Show, being held from January 11 - 24.
The company will highlight the Nano's end-to-end vehicle engineering and design capabilities to its auto industry customers.
Ratan Tata has said the company will consider launching Nano in the US in the next three years as there is a market for the Nano not only in developing countries but also in developed countries.
The people's car was introduced at the Delhi Auto Show in January 2008 and retails for about 2,500 dollars in India.
Tata Technologies was involved from concept to launch on the Nano project, working on the concept, advanced engineering, body-in-white, interior and exterior.