You could be forgiven for thinking that an electric car called the eMO would be dark-colored, inspire sulkiness in its drivers, and play nothing but My Chemical Romance on its stereo. In this case, however, eMO stands for "Electric MObility study," which is just what India's Tata Technologies designed the concept car as - a study in practical, cost-effective electric city/urban transportation. The vehicle is currently on display at the North American International Auto Show as part of this year's Michelin Challenge Design exhibit, in which participants were asked to design "a personal, ground-based vehicle that can transport between two and 10 people, meeting the anticipated needs of select cities in 2046."

The eMO was designed in a collaboration between engineers from Tata's four international centers of excellence, located in Pune (India), Detroit, Coventry, and Stuttgart. They sought to minimize its exterior footprint while maximizing interior space, which resulted in a car that can seat four adults, or that can carry cargo with the back seats folded down.

Additional features include nine air bags, a full steel safety cage, a dashboard touchscreen interface, and easy-access rear suicide doors (combined with forward-opening front doors), like those on the Honda Element.

It also reportedly has more aerodynamic surfaces and shorter overhangs than conventional internal combustion-powered vehicles, its assembly process forgoes traditional painting methods for mold-in colored body panels, and it incorporates recycled building materials.

Power is provided by an air-cooled 18.4-kW lithium-ion battery, coupled to a liquid-cooled, dual-motor, front-wheel-drive system which is said to be good for at least 250,000 miles (402,336 km) of use. This combination gives it a range of 100 miles (161 km) per charge, and a top speed of 65 mph (105 km/h). Stopping is handled by front disc and rear drum antilock brakes with electronic stability control, while an electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion system takes care of steering.

Tata Technologies' sister company, Tata Motors, is best-known for producing what is currently promoted as being the world's most inexpensive car, the US$2,500 Tata Nano. While the eMO isn't designed to be quite that cheap, it has been created to sell for $20,000 - pretty good, for an EV. With a "fuel" economy of 150 MPG equivalent (1.57 L/100 km), Tata estimates that it should cost a typical owner about $405 a year in electricity ... if it's ever commercially produced.

"We developed it strictly as an engineering study with no particular automaker in mind," said Kevin Fisher, president of Tata's Vehicle Programs and Development group. "If there are auto companies interested in exploring the potential of the eMO, we would, of course, welcome that opportunity."

The video below provides some more information on the car.

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