Small, lightweight, electric and seats just one. That pretty much sums up the new Volkswagen Nils concept which was introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show today.

The sole occupant sits inside an ultra-light all-aluminum chassis with aluminum skin and polycarbonate door panels. According to the automaker, overall length is just 120 inches (for reference, the Smart Fortwo is just over 98 inches long) and the weight has been kept below 1,000 pounds. Motivation comes from a 33-horsepower electric motor that weighs just 42 pounds, pulling power from a 5.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The range is about 40 miles and charging takes just two hours.

Facing the driver is a seven-inch TFT display with digital instrumentation. The Nils is also fitted with a portable infotainment unit to controls navigation, radio, phone and Internet access. With multi-link suspension, drilled disc brakes at all four corners and a wide stance, the Nils looks fun to drive. Designed with short-commute Europeans in mind (the project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development) the concept probing the feasibility of micromobility probably won't look very practical to Americans, even if it does appear pretty cool.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      chicagovet
      • 3 Years Ago
      >>>the concept probing the feasibility of micromobility probably won't look very practical to Americans<<< It looks *very* practical to me. Whereas a huge 8-passenger SUV--empty during a commute except for the driver--definitely does *not*.
      Hampton
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they can build a one passenger long range electric car and make it cheap enough so people can buy it as a commuter car with HOV privileges they'd have a real hit. I would buy one just to commute and grocery shop and save my 5 passenger car for other things.
      toyslacker
      • 3 Years Ago
      It makes sense... if they can make it safe and affordable, it should do well. But give it a small diesel powerplant option for northern climates. I like the concept, I hope these small commuters start to pop up more, because I could never stomach buying a Fiesta, Mazda2 or ForTwo...
      waetherman
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's cute. I understand the reasoning behind the one-person seating - adding another person could effectively increase the overall weight by 20%, and reduce range significantly. But making it a one-person vehicle really limits its utility and increases its footprint. I'd rather see something a little longer with fighter-style seating, and preferably with just one wheel in the back so that it could still qualify as a motorcycle for the purposes of HOV and other regulations. VW did something like this back in 1986 with the Scooter. Obviously it never made it past concept, nor did the GX3. Why do they keep doing these things if they don't actually produce them?
        bhtooefr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @waetherman
        Because the German government pays them tax money to develop such concepts. In any case, the three wheel thing isn't important in Europe - they can get away with selling this, this way, there. Here in the US, no way it'd work as a four-wheeler.
      Apostolos Tso.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Renault Twizy School.
      Tstag
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they could sell that for about 4000 GBP it would sell by the bucket load as a commuter car. Won't happen mind.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Tstag
        [blocked]
      Basil Exposition
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just sack up and ride a motorcycle.
        Ducman69
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Basil Exposition
        I do, but when its 105oF out, there's traffic, you have to wear your suit, and there's acid rain... be nice to have a climate controlled vehicle, but don't necessarily need a 4000lb vehicle to move just the 170lbs of meat.
        AnInternetTroll
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Basil Exposition
        No.
        Blake
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Basil Exposition
        No.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        cashsixeight
        • 3 Years Ago
        Motorcycles don't really work in Wisconsin winters. This is a weatherproof commuter. We'd have lots of these already if it weren't for crash standards. Look up HM Vehicles Freeway, it got 100mpg and was made in the late 70s early 80s.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          [blocked]
          John
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          I'm not so sure you want to drive an electric car with tiny wheels in Wisconsin winters. Most batteries don't like extreme cold, and how fast does it drain the batteries if you turn on the heat/defrost? A sensibly ridden bike with proper tires work just fine in snow/ice.
          cashsixeight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          Dumbasses: I wasn't saying electric vehicles make sense for winter. I was saying a small commuter vehicle makes sense, but for winter you don't want to be on a motorcycle. Hence something like hte HM Freeway, which was had a small 1 cylinder engine.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Wally
      • 1 Year Ago
      First off, make it at least have some storage, and MINIMUM of 100 MILES, or don't bother!!!! Why don't they get this ?? WHY WASTE TIME ON SOMETHING YOU CAN ONLY SELL TO SMALL % ?? Stupid engineering , Yay! Does look like its going in the right direction...
      raughle1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I dig it. Now Shrink the battery down to 20 miles to make it cheaper - just enough to get me to the freeway. Change the useless carpool lane into two skinny lanes with a concrete barrier to keep away all the single occupancy SUVs rubbernecking in the other lanes. Electrify the new lanes so I can run off the grid. And give me mandatory radar cruise control so we can keep it real at 80+ mph while we cover big distance. A dedicated flyover on and offramp would be appreciated. Already lots of those being underused in CA. Commuting nirvana, baby!
      axiomatik
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think it's perfectly practical. 90% or more of commuters are in their car by themselves. I would just like a small second seat so I could drop my son off at school.
        Kris
        • 3 Years Ago
        @axiomatik
        Opel is taking care of you! http://www.autoblog.com/2011/09/16/opel-rak-e-electric-concept-looks-to-the-future-of-low-cost-urba/ And it looks better too!
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