It only seats one person, has a 30-hp motor, takes 11 seconds to get from 0-to-60 mph and has a range of 40 miles. Stop the presses. Ok, you've heard this one before, but VW's intent on making this concept car a transformative event, so here goes.
Volkswagen says the all-electric NILS "offers a glimpse of a new form of minimalist mobility," and considering it carries minimal passengers, has minimal cargo room and offers a minimal driving range, they may be on to something. Ok, c'mon, we're just a little jaded about this stuff. Seriously, VW, we're listening.
Bet you thought Europeans took the train everywhere. If you did, you'd be wrong. In Germany, about 60 percent of commuters travel by car, according to the Federal Bureau of Statistics (the F-BS, if you're following along at home). Of these commuters, more than 90 percent travel alone. But here's the rub for NILS: 73.9 percent of commuters residing between Berlin and Munich cover less than 15.5 miles on their way to work. As the concept goes, NILS is the car for them.
Designed at the Volkswagen Design Center in Potsdam, Berlin, NILS is built from an aluminum space frame, and — as VW points out — has the same format as an F1 car — driver in the middle, engine in back, wheels at the corners. It's only around 10 feet long by 4.3 feet wide — wheel to wheel. It has low-rolling-resistance tires on 17-inch alloy wheels. It only weighs 1,000 pounds, so the 30-peak-hp (20 hp nominal power) electric motor and compact battery pack is enough for reasonable speeds. It can be charged in a max of two hours (not bad) at a conventional socket or at a charging station.
Despite the low power output, VW says NILS drives like a go-kart, and may revolutionize commuting for millions. It also has active safety gear like ESP, traction-motor braking and automatic distance control system.
VW's showing off NILS at the Frankfurt motor show later this month, though hasn't hinted at any plans to put it into production. Hey, it's no Segway, but maybe that'll work in its favor.