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Frankfurt show: VW unveils one-seater city-car

Small future: Volkswagen says the all-electric NILS is a “realistic proposition” for a commuter car in 2030.

Volkswagen to present its vision for personal city mobility with one-seater Nils

2 Sep 2011

VOLKSWAGEN will join BMW, Audi and Daimler in presenting its idea of future personal transport for city-dwellers at this month’s Frankfurt motor show where it will unveil the futuristic single-seater NILS concept.

At just 3040mm long, 1390mm wide and 1200mm high, the one-seat NILS is 500mm shorter, 250mm narrower and 280mm lower than the all-new Up three-door hatch that VW will also debut at Frankfurt, and which is under consideration for Australian release by late next year.

While BMW’s all-electric and hybrid-powered i3 city-hatch will enter production in 2013 and should be available here the following year, VW says the all-electric NILS is a “realistic proposition” for a commuter car in 2030.

Representing the latest in a long line of pint-size personal mobility vehicles from the German giant, NILS will join conceptually similar vehicles in debuting at Frankfurt, including Audi’s two-seater open-wheeled Urban Concept and the Smart Forvision EV from Daimler.

VW says NILS is the result of extensive analysis from VW’s ‘Group Research’ department, which serves all VW Group, and features a Formula 1-style open-wheel layout with the driver in the middle ahead of a rear-mounted powertrain.

3 center imageIt said a one-seat configuration was chosen for the NILS, which features an aluminium spaceframe chassis that helps pare weight to just 460kg but meets all contemporary safety requirements, because almost 90 per cent of German car commuters travel without any passengers.

NILS is powered by a 15kW electric motor that delivers up to 25kW/130Nm in short bursts to the rear wheels and is powered by a “relatively inexpensive” 5.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is said to take two hours to fully recharge.

VW says statistics show 73.9 per cent of all commuters residing between Berlin and Munich cover less than 25km on their way to work.

Developed using lessons from VW’s XL1 concept, NILS offers a GM Volt-matching zero-emissions driving range of up to 65km, depending on driving style, has an autobahn-suitable top speed of 130km/h and is claimed to accelerate to 100km/h in a respectable 11 seconds.

VW says NILS, which does without power steering because it is so light, “drives like a sportscar” and features free-standing outboard wheels with low-resistance tyres measuring 115/80 at the front and 125/80 at the rear.

It also comes with double-wishbone suspension, a pair of dramatic glass “wing doors” that are claimed to offer easy entry/exit in tight spaces and a “practical bootspace” designed to accommodate small loads.

Supported by the German transport ministry, the NILS project is “designed to be both technically realistic and economically supportable”.

Volkswagen’s head of development Dr Ulrich Hackenberg said NILS anticipated the future.

“The goal of the NILS project is to research a technically concrete and economically feasible vehicle concept for micromobility which restructures individual transportation to make it more efficient and environmentally compatible based on electric drive technology,” he said.

Along with the Up, NILS will take pride of place on VW’s massive 8893 square-metre stand at Frankfurt, which will present 54 display cars and 74 vehicles available for punters to test drive, including nine Golf ‘blue-e-motion’ EVs.

VW’s two-storey exhibit at the 64th Frankfurt show, planning for which started 10 months ago, will also feature a giant 30-metre tablet PC-like ‘Innovation Wall’. It said a team of 1000 workers is now on site for 25 days to turn the work of 14 architects into reality, while 228 hosts and 80 VW staff will look after show-goers.

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