Volkswagen NILS Concept

From Volkswagen press: NILS, a single-seat electric concept vehicle that offers a glimpse of a new form of minimalist mobility, has been unveiled ahead of its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month. This concept car – which features an aluminium space frame, wing doors and free-standing wheels – has the dynamic performance of a sports car, yet travels silently, and with zero emissions.

The NILS project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, and is designed to be both technically realistic and economically supportable.

'NILS anticipates the future. The goal of the NILS project is to research a technically realistic and economically feasible concept for a minimalist commuter vehicle that makes individual transportation more efficient and eco-friendly thanks to its electric drive,' said Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Head of Volkswagen Group Research.

Commenting from the strategic perspective is Dr. Rudolf Krebs, Group Chief Officer for Electric Traction: 'In terms of the Volkswagen Group's roadmap for electric mobility, these forward-thinking vehicle concepts play an especially important role. That is because the breakthrough of electric mobility will lead to new vehicle requirements - many of which are oriented towards very specific target groups. In advancing electric mobility to high-volume production, it is not enough to simply electrify existing vehicle models.'

With a range of 65 kilometres (40 miles) and a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) Volkswagen NILS would be the ideal vehicle for the majority of commuters in Germany. According to the German Bureau of Statistics, 73.9 per cent of all commuters residing between Berlin and Munich cover less than 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) on their way to work.

The instrument cluster is a seven-inch TFT display. The vehicle's speed is shown digitally in the middle, while energy flow is represented by bars. Another graphic display offers information on the driving range. The second central instrument is a mobile multifunctional device like the one used in the new up!: the Portable Infotainment Device (PID). It is snapped into theA-pillar to the right of the instrument cluster. Via touchscreen, the driver controls functions related to Navigation, Radio, Media, Telephone, Trip computer and - to preconfigure the driving range - 'Eco. The PID computes the expected driving range, then it not only displays the route on the map display, but also the radius and thereby the destinations that can be reached using the current battery charge.

To save on weight and costs, certain functional elements and controls do without electrical assistance. The side mirrors, for example, are adjusted manually. The heating and ventilation system has full electronic control, and there is seat heating. Located to the right of the steering column is the motor start-stop switch; this round switch is also used to select D, N or R.

The aluminium space frame body was designed to be a highly effective safety cell. The body in white is produced from extruded aluminium, cast aluminium and sheet aluminium. The roof frame together with the door mounts, a roll bar, the bootspace and the front bulkhead consist of high-strength sheet aluminium. Extruded aluminium is used in the side sills, the transverse profiles and the front and rear car sections. The front and rear side body are aluminium. Parts made of high-strength plastic include the bumpers and the trim panels on the side sills.

The frames of the wing doors consist of three main elements: an inner section, a crash reinforcement section and an exterior part. When closed, they offer optimal crash safety. The door windows are made of lightweight, scratch-resistant, layered polycarbonate, while the front window is made of laminated safety glass.

The headlights are striking bi-xenon modules, while the indicator lights and daytime running lights are white and yellow LEDs. In the acrylic glass of the rear lights - integrated in the rear section like small wings - the light generated by LEDs is routed via transparent semiconductors which (appropriately for an electric vehicle) consume minimal amounts of power.

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