The Nissan Nuvu is described as a moving oasis, a haven of green tranquillity in the urban jungle. To underline this message, Nissan Nuvu incorporates a witty representation of its green credentials: across its all-glass roof are a dozen or so small solar panels. Shaped like leaves on a branch, the power they generate is fed to the battery using a 'tree trunk' within the car as a conduit. Nissan Nuvu also uses natural, organic and recycled materials within the cabin.
The interior package
The dimensions provide all the interior room needed for the vast majority of city journeys. Nissan Nuvu has two regular seats and a third occasional chair that can be folded down when required. But, unlike some two-seater city cars currently on the market, it is a thoroughly practical proposition with an integral luggage area providing sufficient space for a typical supermarket or shopping expedition.
The packaging is designed to give priority to driver comfort with C-segment levels of space and the flexibility to invite one or two passengers on board. Cabin layout places the regular passenger seat beside but largely behind the driver's seat, allowing the passenger to stretch right out. Ahead of this seat is a third occasional chair which, when not in use, is folded away into the dashboard assembly.
The Natural materials
Many of the materials used inside Nissan Nuvu reflect an increasing concern for the environment. The floor is made from wood fibres pressed into laminate sheets and is studded with rubber inserts made from recycled tyres for grip.
To create a light and bright interior, the windscreen and roof merge into one extended panel running virtually the entire length of the car. But undoubtedly the most unusual feature of the interior is the 'energy tree' which rises from the luggage compartment floor to the roof behind the driver's seat.
The Solar panels
The energy tree is shaped like a thin trunk. As it reaches daylight it branches out under the glass roof providing occupants with protection from bright sunlight… just like a real tree. And providing a visual reminder of Nissan Nuvu's green credentials, covering the branches are dozens of small solar panels shaped like leaves.
Driver controls are as simple as possible. All the major functions - steering, braking, transmission and throttle - are 'By-Wire' while the steering is controlled by an aircraft-style steering yoke: with just one turn from lock to lock, the steering is very direct for agility and manoeuvrability in the city. Nuvu's turning circle is just 3.7 metres. Thanks to its wide track and the use of 16 inch 165/55 tyres mounted on lightweight, almost transparent, wheels, ride comfort, stability and agility is of the highest order.
There are two pedals - for stop and go - stalks for minor controls and a digital instrument panel with dials for speed, distance covered and battery range.
Rear view/parking monitor
Two screens on the dashboard display the view behind the car - there are no door mirrors to disturb the airflow, but small cameras - and double as monitors for the Around View Camera which give a bird's eye view of the car when manoeuvering or parking.
Saving energy was the guiding force behind the use of low-energy LED head and tail lamps, while Nissan Nuvu's heating and ventilation system filters and cleans the city air as it passes through the vehicle. Not only does it produce no emissions at source, but Nissan Nuvu actually helps clean up the city environment.
The exterior and interior design
Nuvu's design is further clear evidence of Nissan's continued desire to challenge convention and to explore all the possibilities that the EV could bring us. In many ways it was inspired by our two most extreme EVs of recent times: Mixim and Pivo 2.
Matching the ecological values of an electric vehicle, the moulded plastics and synthetic elements found inside a typical production car have been replaced by natural materials and organic alternatives, such as the wood fibres and rubber from car tyres used for the flooring. The result helps create a relaxed, warm atmosphere within Nuvu's cabin.
Nissan Nuvu is more than a styling concept of a future EV. It is a fully working mobile test bed for much of the technology that will be used in Nissan's production EV to be launched in 2010. For this reason elements of its technical specification are being kept secret for the time being.
The electric motor used in Nissan Nuvu is mounted at the rear of the vehicle and drives the back wheels, though neither its exact specification nor the power and torque figures are being released at this stage. A driving range of 125 kms and top speed of 120 km/h are being made public, however.
Similarly although it can be revealed that the batteries used are of the latest laminated lithium-ion type and have a capacity of 140 Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram), the total capacity of the batteries and number of modules are not being disclosed at this stage.
Unlike a conventional lithium-ion battery with its bulky cylindrical cells, the laminated Li-Ion battery as used in Nissan Nuvu has thin laminated cells and fewer components overall. This boosts its power by a factor of 1.5 at the same time as halving its physical size. It also remains twice as efficient as a conventional cylindrical Li-Ion battery even after five years or 100,000 kms of continuous usage.
Its compact size allows the batteries to be mounted under the seats and the vehicle's flat floor, thus helping to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible.
A quick charge from empty to full should take between 10 to 20 minutes while a full charge should take between three to four hours from a domestic 220V socket.