Friday, 2 September 2011 9:30 AM
Fast-forward a couple of decades and you could be cruising around in Neil. Sorry, NILS; the new “single-seat electric concept vehicle that offers a glimpse of a new form of minimalist mobility”. This is VW’s latest concept and we can see it in the flesh at this month’s Frankfurt Motor Show. VW top brass explains:
“NILS anticipates the future. The goal of the NILS project is to research a technically concrete and economically feasible vehicle concept for micro-mobility which restructures individual transportation to make it more efficient and environmentally compatible based on electric drive technology,” said Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, member of the Board of Management and Head of Development for the Volkswagen Brand. So it’s a small and light EV for commuters to nip around town in.
With a range of 40 miles and a top speed of 80mph, NILS could be the ideal vehicle for the majority of commuters in Germany. According to the German Bureau of Statistics, 73.9 per cent of all commuters residing between Berlin and Munich cover less than 15.5 miles on their way to work.
NILS is all about nipping through traffic and at just over 3 metres long, 0.39 metres wide from wheel to wheel and 1.2 metres tall, it certainly has the minimal stature to duck and dive through choked-up cities. The driver of the future sits in the middle; the motor is in the back and those free-standing outboard 17inch wheels should make it easy to keep an eye on extremities as traffic-gaps get really small.
Light-weight is good when it comes to EVs; NILS tips the scales at 460kg, and it takes a respectable (for an EV) 11secs to get to 62mph with the lithium-ion battery and single electric motor at full tilt. Its range sits at around 40 miles depending on driving style and it can be charged either via a conventional 230-volt electrical outlet (maximum charging time two hours), or at an electric vehicle charging station. Two hours is the kind of charge time we’re looking for.
Light and strong aluminium features throughout the NILS with a space frame body designed to be a highly effective safety cell. The body in white is produced from extruded aluminium, cast aluminium and sheet aluminium. The roof frame together with the door mounts, roll bar, the boot space and the front bulkhead consist of high-strength sheet aluminium. Extruded aluminium is used in the side sills, the transverse profiles and the front and rear car sections. The front and rear side body are aluminium. Parts made of high-strength plastic include the bumpers and the trim panels on the side sills. As long as it doesn’t come up against a two tonne SUV we should be fine. Will there still be SUVs in 20-years time?
Other futuristic tricks from NILS include a 7-inch TFT display as the instrument cluster; showing the vehicle’s speed, while the energy flow is represented by bars. Another graphic display offers information on the driving range. The second central instrument is a mobile multifunctional device like the one used in the new VW up!: the Portable Infotainment Device (PID). It is snapped into the A-pillar to the right of the instrument cluster. Via touchscreen, the driver controls functions related to navigation, radio, media, telephone, trip computer and to preconfigure the driving range.
So, if you liked the Tron movie and consider yourself a futuristic urban-nipper, clear a space in your new-car-diary for about 20-years time and make a date to meet NILS.
By Daniel Anslow
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