Nissan's PIVO2 Moves in EVery Direction
On Friday the 4th of October, Nissan showed to the press the second generation of its previous PIVO concept car. I was lucky enough to be invited to this event and witnessed first hand what the new PIVO2 can do.
PIVO2 retains the same 360-degree cabin rotation ability as its parent- PIVO. But takes the multi-direction theme one step forward. For now it can be driven with the cabin facing forward- to any of major points of the compass. It achieves this by what Nissan calls their ‘Metamo’ system (Variable Geometry Chassis).
Each of the four wheels now have built-in electric motors that are quite unique. They are a joint development with a company called Fujitsu General Ltd and have twice the power of conventual's motors of the same size. This is achieved by having an optimised layout of both the coils and the permanent magnets. The produces a kind of 3D magnetic field which results in a much greater efficiency in the flow - hence more Turing force. Nissan plans to use the motor both as an in-wheel unit for EV's and within the transmission for HEV applications. The wheels also have 90-degree steering ability and are linked to the chassis by arm like structures. These arm-like structures also have a slewing ability, that swing together or apart. By doing so morph the PIVO2’s width (wheel track) into its length (wheelbase) and at the same time its length into its width. So when you rotate the cabin 90 degrees left or right, to match the new direction of the wheels- your PIVO2 is ready to drive ‘normally’ forward. So creating a vehicle that has no need to go either backwards or even sideways.
The rotating Cabin of the PIVO2 now has only one door (at the front) but still the centre driving position with a passenger seat either side. As the door opens it brings with it both the steering ‘unit’ and also the in-car robot. This built-in cabin companion will look after the driver needs and keep everything safe and happy while manoeuvring around a city. A true guardian angle, that Nissan calls its ‘Robotic Agent’. The steering wheel and controls are built into the door and controls the vehicle using drive-by-wire systems, visible in the photo above.
The wheel arrangement and the variable Geometry Chassis create quite a large footprint for a car that only carries three people. You could drive it in the city as it is highly manoeuvrable, and it would get into very tight parking spots. In fact, the demonstration took place within Nissan's show room gallery in central Tokyo where PIVO2 negotiated around pillars and through gaps and also between parked cars with no problem at all. In a word: Impressive!
The Lithium-ion cells in the battery pack are of a new laminated type. Nissan claims to have 1.5 times more power than a 'conventional' battery of the equivalent size. Nissan achieved this by using nano-level technology to redesign the positive electrode to create a manganete with a stable crystalline structure. This limits decomposition and so increase durability and also reduced resistance.
The lamination of the battery structure also increases the energy density by allowing much efficient cooling to take place when the battery is working at peak current. Decreased energy loss to heat means more for energy for electrical use. Each cell is better managed giving a more stable performance and so ensuring maximum use of the batteries available output. Nissan quotes a capacity of 140Wh/kg and a life expectance of 5 years or 100.000 km of usage.
Yes, all this does sound quite complex. And yes, as a complete vehicle, it is not ready for production any time soon. In fact, this is pure visual theatre and so only when these technologies are applied to more road-going applications will we see some performance figures. But it is a new take on an electric vehicles ability to offer a different kind of transportation device. And if you look beyond its cartoon crab-like appearance, you see that Nissan is very serious indeed about their future with electric vehicles.
On the 13th October the PIVO2 will get its first public showing before it stars on Nissan’s Tokyo Motor Show stand at the end of this month. May be it could also make an appreance at this years EVS at the end of this year? Let's ask.
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