The new new Nano reminds me of the old Volkswagen

Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:

ScreenHunter_01 Apr. 29 12.28 The Nano, made by Indian car manufacturer Tata, is billed as “the people's car.” We've seen this sort of thing before. The first time was in Europe — Germany to be precise. The car was the Volkswagen, which means, quite literally, “The People's Car.” It was Hitler's idea, more or less. He wanted to build a car for the common man. “A car for the people, an affordable Volkswagen, would bring great joy to the masses and the problems of building such a car must be faced with courage,” he proclaimed at the 1934 Berlin Auto Show. It would be of simple design and able to carry two adults and three children at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour. Hitler asked Dr. Ferdinand Porsche to take up the job and he did. Hitler and Porsche started up a little company called Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH (Society for the Preparation of the German People's Car Co. Ltd.) Thus, Volkswagen was born, and you can still buy one today, though it no longer functions as a cheap and basic car affordable to all.

The VW was the result of mass production techniques from the age of the masses, the early 20th century. Really, it isn't so surprising that the Third Reich would be involved in the development of such a car. The whole idea of the VW was that centralized modes of production could provide the general population with cheap goods. And this was essentially the relationship between industry, the state, and the populace imagined by National Socialism. The people provide their “people-like goodness,” and the state provides for those people, who then provide more people for the state, which then supports the people in being the pure and good people that they are, and so on for 3,000 years at least. Nobody was more committed to the idea of “the people,” properly defined, than the Nazis. In the modern mass society of the 1930s as the Nazi state envisioned it, one of the things “the people” needed to do was to get around (attending, no doubt, mass rallies where they would better learn how to be “the people”). They needed to do so relatively cheaply.

The problem, from a design perspective, was how to make a car for next to nothing.

More here.