Volkswagen Creates Electric Vehicle for “Micromobility”

While there are some people who are exceedingly skeptical about the Nissan LEAF because of its ~100-mile range—“Who can imagine a vehicle that has all the amenities you could possibility want, room for five, but only a 100-mile range!?!”—Volkswagen is rolling out a concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show that has a range of 40 miles and seating for one. 40-mile range.

While there are some people who are exceedingly skeptical about the Nissan LEAF because of its ~100-mile range—“Who can imagine a vehicle that has all the amenities you could possibility want, room for five, but only a 100-mile range!?!”—Volkswagen is rolling out a concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show that has a range of 40 miles and seating for one.

40-mile range.

A driver.

Period.

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Called “NILS,” this electric vehicle (EV) is described as being “a concept for micromobility” by Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, head of Development for the Volkswagen Brand and a member of the Board of Management.

Micromobility.

Hackenberg says, “The goal of the NILS project is to work out 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.”

According to the German Federal Statistical Office, 73.9% of all commuters living between Berlin and Munich (~312 miles) drive less than 15.5 miles on their way to work. What’s more, of all of the commuters in Germany—a comprehensive network of public transportation notwithstanding—60% travel by car, and of that number, over 90% travel alone.

So on paper, NILS makes sense.

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NILS was designed at the Volkswagen Design Center in Potsdam, Berlin. It is designed like a Formula One car, with the driver in the middle, engine in back, and wheels outboard. There is a small trunk above the drive unit (a 25-kW peak electric motor, lithium-ion battery, and transmission) in the back. (The car, incidentally, is rear-drive.)

Explains Thomas Ingenlath, designer and director of the Volkswagen Design Centre, “NILS was designed to make a visual statement and transport a vision of the automotive future to the present. The car had to visually highlight the theme of sustainability, while showing a future-oriented look and simply being fun. I think that we have successfully integrated both of these aspects. Although our mission here was to come up with an entirely new body concept for the brand, NILS matches the Volkswagen design DNA 1:1.”

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He adds, “I am especially pleased that we managed to implement the concept of two glass wing doors. This allowed us to crate large transparent surfaces and simultaneously make entering and exiting the vehicle very comfortable, even in the most cramped of parking spaces.”

“Large” may be a relative term, as NILS is 119.7-in long, 54.72-in. wide and 47.2 in. high. It weighs 1,014 lb.

And the “glass wing doors” actually have layered polycarbonate windows; the front window is laminated safety glass.

NILS has an aluminum space frame structure consisting of extrusions, castings, and sheet. (Remember: Audi, the automotive aluminum specialist, is part of Volkswagen Group.) All add-on parts are aluminum or high-strength plastic.

Top speed? 80 mph. Although NILS isn’t Autobahn material, let’s face it: a large number of those German commuters—like those in Tokyo, London, Los Angeles, etc.—spend a whole lot of their commute time going 0 mph.