Currently reading: Frankfurt show - VW NILS Concept
Volkswagen's futuristic NILS concept is a “very realistic proposition” for a commuter car in 2030

Volkswagen is outlining its vision for personal urban mobility in 2030 with this one-seat electric car concept, revealed here at the Frankfurt motor show.

Despite some outlandish concept car features and futuristic looks, VW insists the Volkswagen NILS concept is “anything but a dry-run exercise” and is a “very realistic proposition” for a commuter car in 2030.

See pics of the Volkswagen NILS concept

It is the result of extensive analysis from VW’s ‘Group Research’ department, which serves all VW Group brands. For NILS, it looked into likely future individual transportation trends and discovered “very target group specific requirements” would be placed on cars, hence why NILS is so focused towards a very particular market.

The NILS is based around a Formula 1-style layout (driver in middle, powertrain in rear) and an aluminium spaceframe that contributes to a weight of just 460kg. A one-seat layout was chosen as almost 90 per cent of commuters who travel by car do so without any passengers.

At 3040mm long, 1390mm wide and 1200mm high, the NILS is 500mm shorter, 250mm narrower and 280mm lower than VW’s current smallest car, the new three-door Up. Despite its compact dimensions, VW insists the NILS meets all contemporary safety requirements.

Standout design features include freestanding outboard 17-inch aluminium wheels and a pair of dramatic glass ‘wing doors’ that are claimed to allow for easy access in even the tightest of spaces. Above the rear powertrain is a “practical bootspace” that can stow small loads.

A small 34bhp/96lb ft electric motor drives the rear wheels and it is powered by a “relatively inexpensive” 5.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which offers a maximum range of 40miles. It can get from 0-62mph in 11sec and reach a top speed of 81mph. A full recharge of the battery pack takes two hours and VW says lessons from its XL1 concept from earlier this year have influenced the development of the electric motor.

The NILS does without power steering due to its low kerb weight and VW claims sit “drives like a sports car” due to its low weight and steering feel. Double-wishbone suspension features front and rear.

VW’s sister firm Audi also has its Urban Concept at Frankfurt, a two-seater urban commuter car that, although similar in appearance and concept to the NILS, is claimed to have been developed independently.

Read more about the Audi Urban Concept

See all the latest Volkswagen reviews, news and video

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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