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Nissan out to save on new EV car

NISSAN’S global product boss is desperate to have a smaller, more affordable electric car.

The company’s global general manager of product strategy, Francois Bancon, says he wants to see a city-sized electric car added to the Nissan lineup below the newly introduced Leaf small car.

“On one side you have a creative direction and you can expect the early adopters to be interested in this; on the other side you make the EV accessible for everyone – and this, of course, goes with the smaller size because size is weight and cost,” he says.

Bancon is the man behind Nissan’s three Pivo concept cars – each of which featured a diminutive stance and futuristic styling, and ran purely on electricity.

The most recent concept, Pivo3, was a complete re-think on the concept and included clever additions such as electric motors mounted in each wheel hub.

All four wheels are also able to steer the car, allowing it to perform a U-turn in just four metres – less than half the space required by most city runabouts.

“If you remember Pivo3 we displayed at the Tokyo motor show last year – this is a direction I’m very interested in,” Bancon says.

“You provide to people a new mobility feeling: the agility of the car, the capability to park the car in any situation; all in a very compact format with three seats maximum.

“I would like to see this [type of car] before I die,” the 61-year-old says.

“And we are very serious on this. We are making some studies – of course we don’t have the answer now, we don’t have any strict plans. But it’s one of the directions.

“It’s not for tomorrow morning, you can imagine: Pivo is a revolution in technology but we would like to have something that redefines what city mobility is. We have ten concept cars in EV, so we’ve started to get a good idea how we can make it real. So if you make Pivo today, it won’t be cheap.

“Another direction is to make the car smaller,” he says.

“It’s usually more efficient – especially in the city – and make it cheap. You optimise everything for urban usage and you’re going to make the car naturally cheap. Of course you have less autonomy (or battery range), with less performance, but basically you don’t need it.”

Bancon went on to state that while most people do feel “some range anxiety or worry about how far they will be able to drive”, he says most don’t realise just how little they actually travel.

Bancon described the Leaf, which starts at $51,500 (plus on-road costs) in Australia, as “too expensive for most people” because there are no real financial incentives for buyers.

He says governments need to play a role in helping to make electric cars more affordable to the majority of buyers.

“It is the key,” he says.
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