Developed in concert with Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport as an exercise in "minimalist mobility," the diminutive Volkswagen NILS made its first publc appearance in Frankfurt. This intriguing single-seat commuter is roughly 10 feet long, uses an extruded aluminum space frame/safety cell, plastic and aluminum body panels and tips the scales just beyond the 1,000-pound mark. The cabin is highlighted by a primary 7.0-inch touchscreen that gives the driver full control all major functions but also accommodates a secondary personal infotainment device that can be snapped into the right A-pillar. Although the NILS features fully electronic climate controls, weight-saving considerations mandated manual adjustment for the side mirrors.
Motivation for the Volkswagen NILS Concept comes from a rear-mounted electric motor that weighs 42 pounds and makes 34 horsepower and 96 pound-feet of torque -- sufficient to send the NILS from zero-to-62 mph in 11.0 seconds and on to a top-end of 80 mph. The motor is energized by an advanced 5.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack that packs about a 40-mile range. Full replenishment will require about two hours using the charging port in its tail and plugging into a standard 240V European electrical outlet.
The Volkswagen NILS Concept features upper/lower control arm suspension front and rear, and rides on custom 17-inch lightweight alloy wheels wrapped in unique low-rolling resistance tires. Stopping power comes courtesy of four vented disc brakes. Access to the cabin is via a pair of large swing-up doors, and the upper half of the rear bodywork flips up to reveal a small but functional storage bay. VW says the NILS is fully capable of meeting all current safety regulations and is fitted with the automaker's City Emergency Braking system.