Tata used the Geneva show as the launchpad for its new European specification Nano Europa developed, it said, “for a future launch in select international markets”. Translation: on sale here by 2011.

“It has been developed in the light of the overwhelming interest in the Tata Nano from across the world after its unveiling in India,” the automaker said.

The car was first launched in India in January 2008 but problems with a new factory – ultimately abandoned due to local farmers’ protests over land seizures – meant it is only going on display in Indian showrooms on 23 March with orders taken from April. Tata is building launch stock in existing plants until a new facility in a more hospitable location opens later.

Tata said the Europa versions “stays true to the core values of the Tata Nano – a people’s car, which is comfortable, built to meet safety requirements and emission norms and yet affordable to own and to use but has been suitably modified with enhancements to meet norms, performance and requirements of the target markets and customers”. In other words, more standard equipment, safety features and emission controls than the standard Indian domestic version, developed as a ‘one lakh’ (INR100,000/US2,000) car to give buyers an alternative to two-wheeled transport.

The Europa has a slightly longer wheelbase of 2,280mm, larger 15’’ wheels, a three-cylinder all-aluminium fuel injection engine matched with five-speed automatic transmission and electric power steering. Tata claims this petrol engine will be class-leading with high fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km. Additional features include climatic control and sports suspension and ‘class-leading’ infotainment, leather trim and a range of accessories that will enable owners to customise their car.

“It will not be the same car [as the model sold in India] but it will still be very, very affordable,” Tata group chief Ratan Tata said at the show.

Tata said it is also developing alternative technologies for hybrid and electric drives, which will also be available as options for the Nano Europa.

The automaker also said the Europa “meets all safety regulations” and will be available with anti-lock brakes (mandatory in Europe), stability control and air bags.