Nissan’s New Mobility Concept

It wasn’t too long ago that Toyota redefined itself as a “mobility provider” and started testing products beyond the conventional cars, ...

It wasn’t too long ago that Toyota redefined itself as a “mobility provider” and started testing products beyond the conventional cars, SUVs, trucks and other transportation vehicles we’re used to seeing on the roads. Mostly, being a mobility provider means to also find ways for people to move between public transportation points and homes or offices – ie. the last mile - easily and economically. Now, Toyota’s Japanese rival, Nissan, is also following suit.

At this year’s New York Auto Show, Nissan is testing out its New Mobility Concept, a funny looking vehicle with no windows, powered by battery. We can’t even call it a car because it doesn’t qualify as one – it’s more like a quad bike. But the concept is nothing new, not even for Nissan. The NMC is actually Nissan’s French partner Renault’s Twizy, rebadged, and the original version is already available in the Europe. 

The diminutive vehicle is only 92 inches long, just slightly over half the length of Nissan’s smallest model in the U.S. It comes with a one or two seat capacity. There is no heating nor air conditioning and none of that fancy audio or navigation features, but it does come with one tiny windshield wiper. It also delivers non-breakneck speeds of up to 25mph, which means you won’t be seeing this vehicle on the highways.

However, it also means that the vehicle doesn’t have to abide by the same crash testing standards either. Nonetheless, there is ABS, a front airbag, four-point seat belt for the driver and three-point seat belt for the rear passenger, traction control and ESP – all the good stuff that keep you safe. A 6.1kWh battery provides about 40 miles of range for city driving.

Nissan’s think-tank department, Future Lab, has set the vehicle loose on the streets of San Franciso for testing, by partnering with Scoot Networks. Scoot, as you might have derived from the name, offers scooter rental service and now includes ten of Nissan’s concept vehicle in its product line-up. Rental rates are US$6 for an hour and US$80 for the whole day. The intention is, according to Nissan, to determine whether such a vehicle could become a bona fide product in the future. Josh Westerhold, from Nissan’s Future Lab, said that the company wants to find out “What would the business case have to look like…Who would use it? How would they use it?”

Besides vehicle congestion, limited parking spaces is also an increasing problem with some spaces being sold for sky-high prices in some cities. Nose-to-nose, you can fit three of this Nissan vehicle in one standard parking space, although parking lots will have to repaint their lines. A minor inconvenience, we’re sure, if we’re to embrace the future of human mobility.

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