It might be at the other end of the scale, but Pivo, which was first seen at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, examines the future potential of the electric vehicle in the city environment. Pivo is powered by a Nissan-developed high performance Compact Lithium-ion battery and Nissan’s own electric Super Motor.
Nissan Pivo is powered by a Nissan-developed high performance Compact Lithium-ion battery and Nissan’s own electric Super Motor.
Because the lithium-ion battery is flat it occupies much less space and is lighter than a conventional cylindrical cell. Further weight saving considerations mean Pivo uses two compact Super Motors - one on either axle - rather than having one motor within each wheel. Each Super Motor delivers power to two drive shafts, each of which can be controlled independently to permit efficient distribution of torque to all four wheels.
As a result, Nissan’s design team in Japan has been able to develop an extremely compact body to give Pivo the perfect footprint for the city. Although just 2,700mm from bumper to bumper, Pivo will seat three in comfort, with the driver placed centrally and ahead of the two passengers in the rear of the cabin. Thanks to its narrow width - just 1,600mm - it can be squeezed down busy streets and parked almost anywhere with ease.
But Pivo’s "pièce de résistance" lies in its cabin which, as its names implies, pivots through 360 degrees and means you’ll never have to reverse again: Pivo can be driven straight into a parking slot and, once the body has been swivelled around to face the opposite direction, driven straight out again.
It also means an end to reversing centimetre by centimetre when parallel parking between two obstacles: turning the cabin around to face the direction of travel means the driver doesn’t have to manoeuvre when looking over his shoulder or trying to judge distances in a mirror. Because the platform has a longitudinally symmetrical design the driver’s perception of the car’s extremities doesn’t change even when the cabin is rotated through 180 degrees.
The egg-shaped revolving body has other benefits. The tall, electrically-powered sliding doors, for example, make ingress and egress easy with little or no chance for bumped heads while ‘see-through’ pillars and Nissan’s Around View Monitor mean that blind spots are all but eliminated.
Cameras mounted on the outside of each A-pillar relay an accurate picture of the surroundings to screens within the pillars turning them into virtual windows. More cameras mounted at both ends and on both sides of the car allows the Around View Monitor to generate a 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings on a dashboard monitor.
An innovative image processing technique converts these images into a single bird’s-eye view.
The revolving body has been made possible only by wholesale adoption of Nissan’s multiple drive-by-wire technologies. Embracing steer-by-wire, brake-by-wire and shift-by-wire there are no mechanical linkages between body and chassis. Instead all the car’s functions are operated by electronic signals at the same time as providing more space inside the cabin. And, as a further bonus, drive-by-wire systems mean less weight and fewer mechanical parts.
More advanced electronic systems look after the driver’s information needs. A dash-mounted Infrared (IR) Commander allows the driver to operate navigation and audio systems without having to take an eye off the road ahead or to fumble for fiddly controls.
Using an infrared camera and Nissan’s ‘Magic 4’ concept, all the driver needs to do is point fingers at the IR Commander to choose from any one of four items on the menu: item three requires three fingers, and so on. Want the music louder? Just motion upwards with your hand.
Vital information is projected onto the windscreen to prevent the driver from having to take his eyes off the road to check instrument readings, while Pivo’s Horizontal Display runs additional information along the bottom of the screen rather like movie subtitles. Advanced telematics mean the ‘ticker-tape’ display can pick up live signals broadcasted from nearby buildings.
All these state-of-the-art functions are housed in a futuristic yet friendly design. The headlamps, or ‘eyes’, on the front of the spherical cabin give Pivo a sociable face while recesses at the front and rear - or should that be front and front - of the platform are covered in soft materials to provide somewhere to sit when the car is parked.
"Pivo is not a far fetched flight of fancy but a serious look at what the city car of the future could look like and, more importantly, how it could interact with its environment," said Masato Inoue, Chief Designer, Nissan Motor Limited.