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Nissan Townpod

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Electric cars are all the rage at the Paris show, and Nissan has two of them: the Leaf, which is destined for production, and this, the Townpod, which is decidedly more conceptual.

Its an example of one way in which Nissan could expand its line-up of electric cars in the future, and Nissan says it is aimed at young entrepreneurs.

The companys perhaps rather confusing comparison is with the plain white T-shirt something that can be worn casually or combined with a suit to look rather smarter; and, all the time it remains unpretentious and status-free.

What exactly does that mean?
Nissan says the Townpod mixes the comfort and style of a passenger car with the businesslike utility of a commercial vehicle, and it uses the same drivetrain as the Leaf (which Nissan has just started to take orders for).

The key to the Townpods adaptability is that the car provides a basic platform, which can then be tailored to suit each individual owner by using accessories from both Nissan and third parties.

With its split rear doors and long cargo area, its certainly quite van-like in some respects. Plus, the wide-opening rear doors are rear-hinged, allowing easy access to the cargo space from the kerb, while the rear seats are so slim that they can slide right into the front seats when not needed.

The cabin has a smart, but basic design, with no switches on the dashboard. Instead, the entertainment, navigation and climate control systems are controlled by two centrally mounted digital screens.

The upper one displays information, while the lower one is a touchscreen, and the whole thing can communicate with the drivers PDA via Bluetooth.

There is also a unique system for in-car stowage based around Pucks. These are rubber balls, about the size of a squash ball, with a wide groove cut into them. Able to be placed in various positions around the cabin, they can be tailored to the owners requirements, taking cup holders, mobile phones or bag hooks as necessary.