Volkswagen NILS Concept preview

Concept Cars 2 Sep 2011
Volkswagen NILS Concept preview

At the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show Volkswagen is presenting the NILS Concept, a lightweight, high-tech electric single seater with free-standing wheels.

Volkswagen NILS Concept RenderingThe Volkswagen NILS concept car is a futuristic vision of a personal urban commuter.

It is based on an aluminum space frame and has a total weight of 460 kg and an all-electric powertrain.

The design, created at the Volkswagen design center in Potsdam, is characterized by simple, futuristic lines. Among the distinctive elements are the free-standing wheels and the gull-wing doors.

The concept is only 3.04 meters long, has a total width of 1.39 meters and a height of just 1.2 meters.

The electric powertrain features a rear-mounted motor that delivers 15 kW with a 25 kW peak output, transferred to the rear axle through a one-speed transmission. The unit is coupled with a 5.3 kWh battery.

Volkswagen NILS Concept RenderingThe vehicle can be charged either via a conventional 230 Volt electrical outlet (maximum charging time 2 hours).

The main performances are a 0-100 km/h sprint in less than 11 seconds, a range of 65 km and a top speed of 130 km/h.

Thanks to its layout and the optimal weight distribution, the NILS Concept has sportscar-like handling and agility.

The electronic safety controls include the new City Emergency Braking, that uses a laser sensor located in the front VW logo to detect the risk of an imminent collision, and can automatically brake the car.

Volkswagen NILS Concept Interior Design Sketch The interior combines advanced digital controls with an essential equipment, aimed at reducing weight and costs: there is no power-steering and the side mirrors can be adjusted only manually.

The 17-inch alloy wheels are equipped with 115/80 (front) and 125/80 (rear) low rolling resistance tires.

Below we report some additional information on the concept, selected from the official press release.

Additional images will be released closer to the official debut.

From the official Press Release:


Designer Thomas Ingenlath, director at the Potsdam Design Center, comments: “NILS was designed to make a visual statement and transport a vision of the automotive future to the present. The car had to visually highlight the theme of sustainability, while showing a future-oriented look and simply being fun.

Volkswagen NILS Concept Rendering“I think that we have successfully integrated both of these aspects. Although our mission here was to come up with an entirely new body concept for the brand, NILS matches the Volkswagen design DNA 1:1.”

For example the bumpers have black borders around the impact surfaces, which reminds one of the bumpers on the new up!.

Thomas Ingenlath continues: “I am especially pleased that we managed to implement the concept of the 2 glass wing doors. This allowed us to create large transparent surfaces and simultaneously make entering and exiting the vehicle very comfortable, even in the most cramped of parking spaces.”

Volkswagen NILS Concept RenderingAt the rear, the motor, battery and all other components are so compact in their construction that there is still space for a small but practical bootspace above the drive unit.

The bootlid is unlocked via the VW logo; in this case, the body-coloured area above the rear lighting module swings upwards. The space is laid out so that users can conveniently stow items from a classic shopping trip – a case of drinks and a bag, for example.

Digital instruments

The instrument cluster was tailored to the electric vehicle. The main surface here is a 7-inch TFT display. The vehicle’s speed is shown digitally in the middle.

Energy flow is visually represented by bar elements. Another graphic display offers information on the driving range.

Clever touchscreen. The second central instrument is a mobile multifunctional talent like the one used in a similar form in the new up!: the Portable Infotainment Device (PID). It is snapped onto the A-pillar to the right of the instrument cluster.

Via touchscreen, the driver controls functions related to “Navigation”, “Radio”, “Media”, “Telephone”, “Trip computer” and – to preconfigure the driving range – “Eco”. At the start of the drive, the PID computes the expected driving range, then it not only displays the route on the map display, but also the radius and thereby the destinations that can be reached using the current battery charge.


To save on weight and costs, certain functional elements and controls are operated without electrical assistance.

The side mirrors, for example, are adjusted manually, which is not really an inconvenience in an interior that is only 0.61 meters wide.

There is no power assistance for steering either; however, this is no problem on a vehicle weighing less than 500 kg. Meanwhile, the heating and ventilation system has fully electronic control.

The driver sets the temperature and blower setting via 2 controls in the form of electronic sliders; 2 additional sliders are used for the ventilation flap position (air flow direction) and seat heating.

Located to the right of the steering column is the motor start-stop switch; this round, handy switch is also used to select the position of the single-speed transmission (D, N or R).

The space frame

The aluminum space frame body was designed to be a highly effective safety cell.

The body-in-white – i.e. the basic structure without add-on parts or glass – is produced from extruded aluminum parts, cast aluminum and sheet aluminum.

The roof frame, together with the wing door mounts, a sturdy roll bar behind the driver, the bootspace and the front bulkhead consist of high-strength sheet aluminum.

Also extremely sturdy are the extruded aluminum parts; they are used in the area of the side sills, the transverse profiles and the crash-optimized longitudinal profiles (front and rear car sections).

The housings for the drive unit and other elements consist of cast aluminum parts. All add-on body parts are made of plastic and aluminum. The front and rear side body parts are manufactured in aluminum. Parts made of high-strength plastic include the bumpers and the trim panels on the side sills.

The 2 wing doors have frames that consist of 3 main elements: an inner section, a crash reinforcement section and an exterior part. When they are closed, they offer optimal crash safety.

The door windows are made of lightweight, scratch-resistant, layered polycarbonate. The front window is made of laminated safety glass.


Xenon and LED elements are used for the headlights, rear lights and indicators. In front, 2 bi-xenon modules handle the job of the dipped and main beam headlights.

The indicator lights and daytime running lights are implemented as white and yellow LEDs.

The daytime running lights are mounted on the front wheel trim panels, and these lights also serve as position lights for parking. In the acrylic glass of the rear lights – which are integrated in the rear section like small wings – the light generated by LEDs is routed via transparent semiconductors.

Image Gallery

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  1. emp5317

    Ref. Audi Urban Concept – so inbred its embarassing.


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