Two years ago, Nissan established the “Future Lab” as an extension of Nissan’s global advanced planning group and looks decades ahead to identify potential issues and opportunities for the business today and into the future.
Nissan Future Lab looks beyond products and examines the future of mobility in a wider sense. The group is inspired by rapid developments in automotive technology such as electric, autonomous and connected vehicles and trends like ride sharing.
And the first project is the Nissan New Mobility Concept — a four-wheel a battery-powered one-seat car that Nissan has taken from Renault and modified for the United States.
Nissan is bringing four custom New Mobility Concepts New York City for a series of events surrounding the 2016 New York Auto Show.
“As large cities continue to grow into megacities globally, we need to better understand how transportation is changing and anticipate what transportation needs will look like in the future,” said Rachel Nguyen, director, Nissan Future Lab. “With the fast-paced growth of smart technologies and the emergence of the sharing economy, we are studying how this size and package of electric vehicle fits in real life customer situations.”
“Urbanization and the growth of megacities – particularly in developing countries – is the biggest challenge facing the automotive industry,” added Nguyen. “It’s mind boggling to think there’s only about 10 megacities now and in 20 years there will be 30. Mobility is a major driving force central to how these megacities will develop.”
In October, Nissan Future Lab partnered with Scoot Networks, adding 10 New Mobility Concepts to Scoot’s fleet in San Francisco, a city that has many of the same traffic and parking challenges as New York City. These test New Mobility Concepts (known there as Scoot Quads) rent for $6 for a half hour use or $80 for a full day.
The Nissan New Mobility Concept is based on the Renault Twizy, which is currently available for sale in select European markets and will be offered in Canada beginning in summer 2016. The New Mobility Concept has been specially imported by Nissan for demonstration and testing purposes for the duration of this research project.
The car comes in a one-set or a two-seat layout. In addition to having no windows, the version that Future Lab turned loose on the streets of Manhattan had one small windshield wiper, no heat or air conditioning, no audio or navigation technology, and delivered top speeds of 25 mph.
That makes the car a “neighborhood electric vehicle,” legal for streets with posted speed limits of no more than 35 mph, and not sanctioned for highway driving. The vehicle’s 6.1-kWh battery provides about 40 miles of city driving range.
With their 7.6-foot length, about the size of four-tenths of the all-new Nissan TITAN XD pickup that is also on display at the New York Auto Show, the New Mobility Concept have the potential to help reduce pollution and traffic congestion in the city. Parking is also a major benefit, with three NNMCs able to fit head-in into one parking space (where permitted). For demonstration purposes in New York City, the four vehicles are wrapped in different primary colors with the hashtag #NissanFutureLab down the sides.