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VW Nils single-seater electric car concept (2011) news

Thu, 01 Sep 2011

This is Volkswagen's new Nils concept car - a radical single-seater electric car designed purposefully for the solo urban commuter.

Ever wondered why so many cars in cities have just one occupant in the rush hour? VW says 90% of German commuters travel solo. The VW Nils is for them.

VW Nils concept: in detail

The Nils is all about lightweight and minimalism. Space for two? Nope. Steel body panels? Hardly. It's a design statement for future city transport needs, produced in partnership with the German ministry for urban development.

It uses an aluminium spaceframe to trim kerbweight to just 460kg - and those compact dimensions help, too. It's just 3040mm long - half a metre shorter than an Up - while it's just 1390mm wide. It's lower than a Porsche 911.

VW says the blueprint for this single-seater followed an F1 car: the driver's in the middle, lightweight 25kW electric motor slung out back driving the rear wheels and free-standing 17in wheels. 

That engine weighs just 19kg. It's all part of the virtuous circle: lighter car? You need a smaller engine, lighter brakes etc...

The electrical bit

Volkswagen says the Nils has an EV range of 40 miles with a 5.3kWh lithium-ion battery. Three quarters of German commuters travel fewer than 15 miles each way to work.

You plug in at home at a three-point plug for a two-hour charge, or a high-voltage fast-charge in town.

Yet the VW Nils will keep up with the urban traffic light grand prix. It tops 85mph and you'll scurry silently from 0-62mph in just 11sec.

R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg said: 'Nils is anything but a dry-run exercise. It is very realistic. Despite its compact dimensions, the concept fulfils all safety requirements for contemporary vehicles.'

He's hinting at the future flurry of electric cars about to emerge from Wolfsburg. The first E-drive Golf lands in 2013.

By Tim Pollard