Nissan unveils its ‘realistic’ EV concept car

9 Nov 2011

Nissan PIVO 3 Concept electric vehicle

Nissan is gearing up to show off its third-generation PIVO 3 EV concept to the world at the Tokyo Motor Show. Its designers have given us a preview of some of the minute electric car’s unique features the automaker hopes will contribute to smarter urban commuting in the future.

However, it is unlikely we will see a roadworthy version of the concept EV until 2016 or 2017, at the earliest.

Since it featured the PIVO 1 at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2005, Nissan has introduced six other EV concepts. The PIVO 3 is its eighth EV concept. Nissan envisions the car will reflect a more “realistic” EV of the near future.

Key features of the PIVO 3

  • The compact car measures just less than 3m (9.84 feet) in length and seats three in a 1+2 layout.
  • Its short body is due to the use of in-wheel motors to propel the car. PIVO 3 uses electric power and by-wire control technology.
  • The car has a futuristic technology called Automated Valet Parking (AVP). This will allow the PIVO 3 to automatically drive, locate a parking space and park. However, for such a technology to actually work, it will require a smart parking infrastructure to support it.
  • Nissan says the vehicle can then charge itself, or sell excess energy to the smart grid.
  • The car will return to the driver via a call from their smartphone.
  • PIVO 3 can make a legal U-turn on a road just 4 metres wide as the car has a 2-metre minimum turning radius.
  • Side-view monitors take the place of mirrors, using Nissan’s Around View Monitor system, which could help minimise blind spots.
  • It has a robotic agent interface, using cloud-computing technology.

Interior of the Nissan PIVO 3 Concept EV

The driver seat takes centre stage in the new PIVO 3 EV concept car

Will electric mobility contribute to future smart cities?

Nissan’s Francois Bancon, deputy divisional GM for product strategy, and Taro Ueda, design director of product design, yesterday discussed the concept car.

From an innovation point of view, Bancon said the car has two main aims – firstly, to give people a new driving sensation.

“Thanks to the centre driving position, you are not anymore on the side of the car – you are in the centre. That gives you very different visibility, a very different way of driving in general. You are like a driver in a race car – for example, a one-seat race car. That’s a big thing because we think only EV can provide this in the vehicle and that’ll change completely your relationship with the car together with the others outside of the car.”

The second unique feature of the Pivo 3EV is about giving drivers “extreme agility in the city”, explained Bancon.

He said the car could complete a U-turn in 4 metres, whereas cars in general now require about eight to 10 metres to perform a U-turn.

“So that provides you a sensation of freedom. I can do whatever I want with a car, I’m not anymore limited in terms of technology of the car. You can almost move like people.”

Ueda then spoke about how the PIVO 3 has evolved from the PIVO 1 and PIVO 2.

“It’s not an easy challenge for us … But PIVO 3 is exactly designed for the mainstream of our EV, so we have a lot of requirements: Nissan-ness, EV-ness, to be realistic and environmentally friendly. That means we have mixture of requirements and the design teams are working hard to make sure all those requirements are combined into one design and that design should be at a higher level than PIVO and PIVO 2.”

But, most importantly, how long will it take for this concept to be converted into a real vehicle, as well as its technologies?

“There is no decision to do this. We are now considering the next step of the EV after LEAF and Infiniti EV and an LCV EV. We are going to have many ways to propose to the market what seems radically different, it must be an EV signature (model),” said Bancon.

So, while PIVO 3 is one of the candidates, he said it won’t be the only one. He pointed to the compact sports EV Nissan pioneered in the past.

Bancon indicated that in about 2016 or 2017 we could see the eventual production of the PIVO 3.

Nissan PIVO EV 3 Concept will embrace cloud tech

The Nissan PIVO EV 3 Concept will embrace cloud technologies in its drive to embrace more smarter, connected, emissions-free urban mobility

All images courtesy of the Nissan UK Mediaroom

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic