It's a grim future that Nissan predicts for the world's urban areas; "within just a few years, cities all over the world will be at near bursting point," the company intones ominously inside the press kit for the cute new Nuvu concept, a car that doesn't look at all concerned with the imagined coming Armageddon.
The Nuvu's an electric-car concept, with two front seats and a third jump seat for occasional users (aren't all users occasional?). Built on a new platform, its electric drivetrain previews that which Nissan will put into production in 2010 and into mass production by 2012, it says. The electric motors and lithium-ion battery packs are said to be good for about 78 miles and a top speed of about 75 mph.
The Nuvu mates a huggable style with earth-hugging credentials. From its soft, touchable surfaces and curvaceous body, the concept proved so feminine, two male British reporters in the front row were said to have spontaneously grown an ovary. Possibly that isn't true, but it is true Nissan uses organic and recycled materials throughout the Nuvu to create "an urban oasis complete with its own tree inside." In reality, the "tree" is a set of solar panels in the glassy roof, each one only vaguely leaf-shaped and each one adding to the electric charge for the Nuvu to proceed in its gasless way. In the electronic idiom, all the controls--braking, steering and acceleration--are done by wire.
It's loopy minimalism done with a Parisian flair--something the world's current plans for somber, serious EVs could use.