Special Coverage

Tokyo
Auto Show

TOKYO – The Pivo2, the second generation of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.’s futuristic mini electric vehicle, is expected to steal a share of the spotlight at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

Unveiled to the media today at the auto maker’s headquarters here, the Pivo2 is designed for young women, with its cute looks and accent on driving fun and maneuverability.

The tiny 3-seater (a 1+2 configuration) incorporates the latest Nissan technology. The car’s cabin, like that of its predecessor, rotates 360 degrees, allowing easy entry and exit from any location through its single door.

Three-dimensional magnetic motors, able to rotate 90 degrees, are built into each wheel and eliminate the need to back into parking spaces (no more parallel parking hassles), as the car can be driven into parking spaces front-first – from whatever side front may be.

Pivo2’s steering wheel is built into the door. Braking, like steering, is a by-wire system.

Meanwhile, the car’s pair of lithium-ion battery packs enables it to cover 80 miles (125 km) on a single charge and reach speeds up to 75 mph (120 km/h).

A small robot head, incorporating various sensors to detect the driver’s condition, is built into the dashboard to create a new form of interface with the driver – and a new driving concept based in part on Japan’s “manga” (comic book) tradition.

The robot talks to the driver and alerts him if he’s not paying attention to the road.

Masato Inoue, chief designer of both the Pivo and Pivo2 (as well as their forerunner, the Effis, displayed at the 2003 Tokyo show), says the car is a work in progress and could be ready for the market by 2015.

However, much will depend on bringing down battery costs. Inoue notes Pivo2’s Li-ion battery pack remains nearly double the cost of the rest of the car. Still, he is optimistic costs will come down sharply in the next five to six years, aided in part by the auto maker’s collaboration with NEC Corp.

Earlier this year, Nissan and NEC formed Automotive Energy Supply Corp. to develop and produce Li-ion batteries for hybrids and pure EVs. Production is scheduled to get under way in 2009.

Pivo2 measures 102.0 ins. (259.1cm) long and 66.0 ins. (167.6 cm) high, a mighty mite by any standard.