Nissan New Mobility Concept: Micromobility in action
In the run-up to the New York Auto Show, Nissan’s Future Lab brought its New Mobility Concept to the streets of the Big Apple to showcase what it terms “micromobility” as a future answer to ever congested urban environments. Based on the Renault Twizy, which is sold in select European markets and slated for sale in Canada later this year, the tiny one-passenger electric, which also can be configured to carry two rather tightly in tandem, is tailored for use in tight and traffic-choked streets and is more a four-wheeled scooter with a roof than a true city car, like the Smart car.
“As large cities continue to grow into megacities globally, we need to better understand how transportation is changing and anticipate what transportation needs will look like in the future,” said Rachel Nguyen, director of Nissan Future Lab. “With the fast-paced growth of smart technologies and the emergence of the sharing economy, we are studying how this size and package of electric vehicle fits in real life customer situations.”
San Francisco experiment
Currently, Nissan has 10 of the New Mobility Concepts in service at Scoot Networks in San Francisco, which uses them as part of their car sharing service. The vehicle can be rented for $6 per half hour or $80 per day. Riding on a 66.4-inch wheelbase, the New Mobility Concept is just 7.6 feet long overall and has a width of 48.7 inches, though that dimension is from outside wheel to outside wheel. The actual cabin is much narrower. Weighing just 1,045 pounds, the vehicle is powered by a 17-horsepower electric motor with a 61kWh lithium-ion battery with a range of about 40 miles. Top speed of the vehicle is limited to 25 mph. Nissan says the vehicle can be recharged in about 3.5 hours.
The cabin itself is rather Spartan—there’s a vinyl covered seating area, no carpeting and a simple dash with an on-off button and three buttons for drive (forward), neutral and reverse. The swing-up doors have no windows, but the vehicle is equipped with a driver airbag and seatbelts. Although the New Mobility Concept is quite narrow, it has a relatively high seating position, so visibility forward and to the sides is quite good, and while there is no rear window, large side mirrors contribute to being able to see all around.
Driving the vehicle in Midtown Manhattan traffic was a revelation. You don’t feel as nearly intimidated as you think around larger vehicles including buses and trucks (cabs are another thing all together). The best thing is being able to squeeze into lanes and move to the front of traffic almost like a scooter or a bike. However, the limited top speed means you also have to keep track of bikers who are almost as fast as the New Mobility Concept. The electric motor makes it quick off the line and enables it to hold its own in most stop and go traffic. While it is an interesting concept, such a cross between a scooter and car would need a few more amenities including roll-up windows to make it suitable for year-round use in an environment like New York City.