Nissan says the current Pivo electric concept car will be the last in the series, but it hopes to have a production version on sale within five years.
Nissan design boss Shiro Nakamura said: 'The series [of concept cars] is completed, the next model will be a production model. I don't know when that will happen. We will look at the business case, but maybe in about five years time.'
The first Pivo concept car was revealed at the 2005 Tokyo motor show and featured a rotating cabin – hence its 'pivot'-derived name. In 2007, it developed the concept further with the Pivo 2. Both were typical Tokyo motor show concept cars in that they would never make production.
The Pivo 3, revealed at the Tokyo motor show yesterday, is much more serious, says Nissan; designed to show customers how a small electric city car could look.
'The Pivo 3 is still a concept car,' said Hideaki Watanabe, head of zero emissions at Nissan, 'but we have pulled the concept into reality. We wanted to show a car that can be massed produced and not something that looks far into the future. We wanted to show something real.'
The Pivo 3 is driven by four in-wheel electric motors and has an extreme four-wheel-steering system that ensures the Pivo 3 keeps the manoeuvrability of its predecessors – it can do a u-turn within four metres.
When the car is eventually made, it should retain the in-wheel motors: 'we think in-wheel motors are a viable solution,' said Watanabe.
The production car will have to be bigger to ensure it complies with safety regulations.
'When production starts, it won't be this size,' conceded Nakamura. 'Safety regulations around the world have to be taken into consideration. A cabin that can rotate – as in Pivo 1 – is not realistic in terms of safety and cost.'
In 2010, Nissan and alliance partner Renault announced a tie-up with Daimler – parent company of Mercedes-Benz and Smart. Nissan confirmed it is working on a fuel-cell electric vehicle with Daimler, but is the Pivo 3 a successor to the Smart Fortwo? No, says Nakamura.
'The Pivo 3 is irrelevant to Daimler. It is not the next Smart.'
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