Nissan Nuvu

Electric city car points to future green machine from firm

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

Wild looks, an electric motor and a recycled interior. There’s no doubt that when it comes to being unconventional, Nissan’s Nuvu leaves no stone unturned in its quest to be different. Yet despite this, the driving experience is impressive. With good performance, incredible refinement and a tight turning circle, we think this model really does represent a taste of the ultimate city car of the future.Rival: Mitsubishi i-MiEVAn electric version of the innovative i city car is set to be launched in Japan next year. It has an advantage over the Nuvu as it’s based on proven running gear, while the larger interior means there’s plenty of room for four. Its range and performance promise to be comparable to the Nissan’s.

There’s no doubt that Nissan has given us some strange looking concepts recently. And hot on the heels of the outlandish rotating cabin-equipped Pivo and Pivo 2 studies comes this – the Nuvu.

Auto Express had an exclusive preview of the three-seater city car ahead of its debut at the Paris Motor Show. And the thing that struck us immediately about the Nuvu is that it’s not white – unlike nearly every other concept revealed recently! In fact, the car is bright gold. Nissan calls the colour Soft Feel Sandy Gold – a name which celebrates its near-matt finish.

It’s certainly eyecatching, but undoubtedly the most striking feature of the Nuvu is the ‘energy-tree’, which rises from the luggage compartment floor to the roof behind the driver’s seat. Here it connects to solar ‘leaves’ that cover the glass roof. This is the first indication that the powertrain of this concept is fully electric.

The motor is mounted at the back of the vehicle and drives the rear wheels. Nissan wouldn’t confirm any power figures, but insiders claim that the Nuvu will have a driving range of around 80 miles and achieve a top speed of 75mph. That’s impressive for a vehicle that relies solely on electric power.

The lithium-ion batteries are manufactured as a joint venture between Nissan and the NEC electronics group, and they are mounted under the seats to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible. Charging from empty to 80 per cent capacity takes 10-20 minutes, while a full charge from flat from a standard domestic supply will be complete in three to four hours. But it’s not only the drivetrain that’s green in this concept. Many of the materials used in the Nuvu are designed to be environmentally friendly. As a result, the seats are made from recycled material and are mounted on a floor made from wood fibre and old car tyres!

Driver controls are simple, with all of the main functions – steering, accelerating, braking and gear selection – operated ‘by wire’. This gives the Nuvu a very light feel, with a wheel that requires only one turn from lock to lock – ideal for tight city streets. The gearchange and handbrake are concealed under a panel in the floor of the Nuvu, but while this keeps the cabin looking tidy, it’s not very practical!

The dashboard incorporates a large digital instrument panel which shows speed, distance covered and battery range. There are no wing mirrors on the Nuvu, though, as these have been removed to help reduce the car’s drag coefficient. Instead, it’s fitted with two small cameras which form part of the Nissan’s advanced parking system. This set-up gives a bird’s-eye view of the car when parking in tight spots and makes it remarkably easy to manoeuvre.

Nissan has already confirmed it plans to introduce an all-electric car to the US and Japan in 2010, which it will then sell across the globe in 2012. The Nuvu isn’t that model, but the technology it uses will certainly appear in the production vehicle.

Most Popular

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300
Car group tests

Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport vs Cupra Leon 300

The capable Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport goes up against its new Cupra Leon 300 sibling in this hot hatch battle
12 Jun 2021
New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain
Lexus NX - front action
Lexus NX SUV

New 2021 Lexus NX arrives with firm’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain

The new Lexus NX 350h features a standard hybrid set-up, while the NX 450h+ gets a plug-in hybrid powertrain capable of 40 miles of pure electric powe…
12 Jun 2021
LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini
LEC MINI Electric
MINI

LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini

The conversion sees the Mini’s A-Series engine replaced with a dinky electric motor and a 20kWh battery for a range of 70 miles in the city
10 Jun 2021
Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features
Audi S5
Audi

Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features

Almost every car in Audi’s line-up has received a tweak, with major updates including Amazon Alexa integration and a Sonos stereo
11 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'
Honda opinion
Opinion

'GM taking over Honda would be a disaster'

Mike Rutherford is worried about Honda's future, despite its recent motorsport success
6 Jun 2021
Mustang Mach-E: your next company car?
A red Ford Mustang Mach-E parked
Advertisement Feature

Mustang Mach-E: your next company car?

Thinking of getting a new company car? Here’s why you should consider putting the Mustang Mach-E on your shortlist
11 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition 2021 review
Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition - front
Volkswagen T-Cross

New Volkswagen T-Cross Black Edition 2021 review

The small Volkswagen T-Cross SUV turns on the style in new Black Edition trim
11 Jun 2021