2007/10/07

Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL

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This is Nissan's new concept car, The Pivo 2 that will debut at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. Powered by advanced Compact Lithium-ion Batteries and featuring a unique rotating cabin - meaning no reverse gear required - the first Pivo became a cult hit at shows from Beijing to Geneva.

Pivo 2 takes the idea of an environmentally friendly electric urban commuter vehicle and adds fun, functionality and a unique relationship between the car and driver. Pivo 2 is powered by advanced Compact Lithium-ion Batteries and employs 'by-wire' technologies for braking and steering. There are no axles which allows the wheels to change angle.

Where the first Pivo, with its fully rotating cabin design, made reversing obsolete, the Pivo 2 takes that easy mobility concept to a new level. Each of the four wheels are powered by Nissan's advanced electric In-wheel 3D Motor and can turn through 90 degrees to allow Pivo 2 to drive sideways as well as forward. The rotating cabin also means that when parked on the street, you can exit or enter directly to or from the sidewalk. The seating faces the door, on which the controls are mounted.

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The Robotic Agent, which moves and uses lighted eyes and mouth for expression, can converse with you in Japanese and English, offering directions - such as where the nearest parking lot is located and which one is cheapest. But it can do much more than that. It can even read your facial expression to see if you are having a good day and if not, say things to help cheer you up. Or if you look sleepy, it might offer to show you to the nearest coffee shop.

Being a "concept car" there are obviously a few things that need addressing before turning into a production vehicle. You wouldn't want to open that door in the rain for example, and there is no place to stash the groceries for another, but the whole purpose of this kind of project is to explore ideas.

Pivo 2 won't tear me away from my bicycle, but I really appreciate a concept car with a truly innovative design that focuses on the environment as well as the practical utility and comfort for the user of the vehicle as opposed to merely cranking out yet another (yawn) muscle car. Attention to the enjoyment of day to day life is something I've come to deeply admire about Japan. A recent article in the International Herald Tribune (thanks Kurashi - News from Japan) put it well -

"...(Japan) has quietly gone about its business, applying the same kind of meticulous approach long ago made famous by its industries, of relentless small improvements to quality of life."



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Thank you, HAL.

12 comments:

Don Snabulus said...

This car looks a bit like the Zap Obvio 828e but with a more advanced powertrain. Pretty cool stuff.

Pandabonium said...

Snabby - yeah. Nissan has been developing Lithium ion batteries for 15 years now and has the size way down and performance way up. I hope car companies can get prices down to a reasonable level on these things and start making a dent in the urban market. The Obvio is projected to cost 49K.

QUASAR9 said...

Pretty Cool,
and let's face it, it is no longer large cities like London, New York or Tokyo where traffic is a problem

Even smaller cities, which are growing too fast (flats & people wise) are short of parking spaces, and the average speed during rush hour in the City Centres is about 7-10mph (if you are lucky - lol).

I guess people will not give up their love affair with SUV and 4x4 and gas guzzlers, but for practical reasins more second cars in the average home may become economical and 'environmentally' friendly concept cars. Note I said second (or third) family car

Pandabonium said...

Quasar9 - That's the truth. And as the price of fuel keeps going up, at some point the gas guzzlers will go too. Public transport, electric cars, and bicycles are the real alternatives.

The UK is now faced with steeply declining production from the North Sea (10% decline year over year) and has been a net importer of fossil fuels for several years now. It's downhill from here.

Of course, the rich die hards can always indulge in a new "Navistar International 7300CXV SUV" - which weighs 7 tons. Parking it in a city? Forget it!

The Moody Minstrel said...

I'm actually starting to see more Smart cars around the Kashima area, which I'm taking as a hopeful sign of a healthy change of attitude. Who knows? Maybe a car like this would catch on!

Word verification:
Tremendous, what the dreams of man produce
If he but strives to bring them into form!
He only needs to shake his constraints loose
So that the fantasy becomes the norm.
Who knows what marvels time will bring?
Hey, Hummers aren't everything!

Swinebread said...

Great Idea, a very practical design for a change. I don’t like the door so much but other than that it’s car design whose time has come…

Pandabonium said...

Moody - certainly we will see electric cars fairly soon. (Toyota already had an electric RAV 4 as an experiment). Love the poetry - thanks.

Swinebread - the door isn't quite right, I agree, but there are some cool innovations going on here that may well find their way into cars of the future.

ladybug said...

Hmm, I'd have to say it's a neat toy, but totally impractical for a family. Good public transport, bikes and good city planning (meaning the food shopping & service aren't miles away from your suburb) are the best bet.

Also, I've been checking out the bridge near our home, it DOES have a small bike lane, but definitely won't ride it during rush hour.

Now all I need is some carriers for the sides and a great big lady seat for my great big.....

So I don't arrive with "horse end" when I come back home!

Pandabonium said...

Ladybug - it is just a concept car - exploring ideas. There are a lot things that would be different if they actually built one. Not a family car for sure, but there is a market for two seat cars in Japan.

Check out this bicycle page for bicycles that might work for you.

Olivia said...

Am a bit late to this post, but I love it. I remember when the first Pivo came out, and how it swivelled nicely into its parking slot.

If I rode a bike, I would totally abandon it in favour of one of these, as it's like a Smart Car, only...smarter!

I would be charmed but probably too distracted by the "lobot" inside; however, the pace of the demo is so slow, the robot isn't too much of a bother.

And finally, my cousin drives the new Nissan Micra, and I can definitely see the Nissan concepts tending in this direction, as the Micra has all the bells and whistles, proximity entry and startup, tells you if there is frost on the ground, etc. Sweet.

Pandabonium said...

Olivia - never too late to comment. You can be assured that at least one person will see it - me. Concept cars rarely go into production, but some of the ideas do become part of other cars. I like the emphasis on being environmentally friendly and convenient to use rather than "bigger, more powerful, faster, etc." that a lot of car companies go for.

And as we address climate change and face oil depletion if we are going to have cars at all they will have to be electric. Besides, it's kind of cute. :)

Olivia said...

Yes, I was counting on you reading it.