If you’re a Volkswagen fan and you’re going to the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show to see how future cars will look, then you have to take a look at the Volkswagen NILS. This development is the result of VW's Group Research and it may be related Audi's Urban Concept, which was introduced at Frankfurt as well. It is intended for individual transportation.
It uses an F1-style layout, which places the driver in the middle of this vehicle that measures 3040mm long, 1390mm wide and 1200mm high.
It is significantly smaller than the Up, the most compact VW vehicle. It is built on 17-inch alloy rims, which has 115/80 tires at the front and 125.80 tires at the rear. A compact electric motor, which has a nominal power of 15 kW (20.4 hp) and a peak power of 25 kW (34 hp) and a torque of 96 lb-ft., is positioned at the rear.
It is equipped with a "relatively inexpensive” 5.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack that offers a driving range of 40 miles (64 km). The NILS, which weighs 460 kg, can sprint from zero to 62 mph in less than 11 seconds and it could reach a top speed of 81 mph (130 km/h).
It takes two hours to fully charge it. The NILS’s handling is comparable to that of a sports car. In addition, it doesn’t have power steering as the vehicle is very lightweight and it has a double-wishbone setup for both axles.
To save on weight, and more importantly cost, a number of controls and functional aspects of the NILS do not utilize electric power. An example of this is the side mirrors which need to be manually adjusted. Its ventilation and heating, including the seat heating, systems though allow for electronic control.
The motor round star-stop switch is placed on the steering column’s right and is used to activate the D, N, or the R, modes. Still on the equipment, the instrument cluster contains a TFT 7-inch display where the current speed of the vehicle is digitally shown in the middle with the energy flow denoted by bars. Aside from these two, the driver is also able to know the driving range through a different graphic display.
Similar to the up!, there is a second central instrument which is also a mobile multi-functional device called the Portable Infotainment Device or PID. This PID has been fitted to the A-pillar which is on the instrument cluster’s right. All of the functions associated with the Trip computer, Telephone, Radio, Media, and Navigation are managed through a touchscreen. It is also possible to get the Eco, where one can preconfigure the possible driving range, controlled through these touchscreen.
Once the PID is able to determine the expected driving range, it displays the possible route on its map display. This is not all as it also displays the radius and the possible destinations to be running under the current charge of the battery.
While fun is an important factor, safety is just as important. This is why the NILS is equipped with what is known as automatic distance control system. What it does is utilize radar sensors in order to scan the area that is in front of the NILS, for a maximum of 200 meters. The driver initially sets a minimum value for the distance and when the system determines that the distance between the vehicle and the one in front of it is going below that initial value, it activates the brake interventions.
As such, depending on the current conditions, it ensures that the brakes are automatically applied and the car comes to a complete stop. The brakes are made possible through the four disc brakes in addition to the electric traction by the electric motor. Even the battery regeneration can be utilized for the brake. Integrated to the automatic distance control system is the Front Assist. This particular system is able to give a warning when there is the possibility of a collision.
When running under 30 km/h, or 18 mph, the brake is immediately triggered in order to prevent a collision. Still on the issue of safety, the space frame body is composed of aluminum and was created to be a very effective safety cell. In white, it is made from sheet aluminum, cast aluminum, and extruded aluminum. Also in extruded aluminum are the side sills, as well as the transverse profiles including the front the rear sections.
Meanwhile the roof frame is made up of high-strength sheet aluminum like the bulkhead in the front, bootspace, roll bar, and door mounts. Even the front and the rear side body come in aluminum. On the other hand, the trim panels that are on the side sills and the bumpers are composed of high-strength plastic. Meanwhile the wing doors’ frames have three main elements: the exterior portion, the crash reinforcement section, and the inner part.
As long as they are closed, they deliver optimum crash safety. Though the window in the front is composed of laminated safety glass, the windows on the door are instead made of the layered, scratch-resistance, and lightweight poly carbonate.