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Published on July 13th, 2013 | by Tim Tyler

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Nissan Designing New Urban Personal Electric Transporter



Nissan has been working on a new concept vehicle that is designed to address growing congestion in European cities. Actually, this is a growing problem in large cities all around the world, and this type of urban personal electric transporter (UPET) could possibly be a key solution to easing congestion and lowering emissions in these places.

nissan land glider

Image: Land Glider via Nissan

Nissan is not the first to explore this problem. Its alliance partner Renault has been toying with the similarly targeted Twizy for some time now. But Nissan think’s it can pick up where the Twizy leaves off. The Renault Twizy is marketed mainly as an alternative to scooters, while Nissan’s new car will combine the compactness and agility of a motorcycle with weather protection and a protective shell more akin to a conventional car.

Nissan’s head of product strategy and planning, Etienne Henry, says: “The Twizy is also trying to combine these, but we think there are optimizations possible with this kind of vehicle.” Henry declined to say when the car might actually be added to Nissan’s lineup.

Back in 2008, Nissan introduced an enclosed cabin Land Glider concept that had four wheels and took corners much like a motorcycle. While some think that this design may be incorporated into the new urban EV concept, Nissan has declined to confirm that.



Henry is not new to the concept market, he was previously the product manager for the first-generation Qashqai compact crossover. He expects the new EV to “successfully mix the motorcycle and car  genres in the same way the Qashqai blended the strengths of a compact hatchback with the styling of an SUV. It’s clear we need to offer an efficiency in terms of compactness, of space usage. Probably this will have an answer to this question.”

Nissan and Renault are not the only manufacturers looking to get into personalized electric transport. During this year’s Geneva Auto Show, Toyota introduced its i-Road three-wheeled concept vehicle that will be part of a car-sharing program next year in Grenoble, France.

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About the Author

Holds an electronic's engineering degree and is working toward a second degree in IT/web development. Enjoy's renewable energy topic's and has a passion for the environment. Part time writer and web developer, full time husband and father.



  • Altair IV

    Of course this is all really just an update of the classic microcar concept, which AIUI were particularly popular in post-war Europe. Everything old is new again.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcar

  • Marius Fourie

    It took another energy crisis to address the worlds traffic problems. 8 Km/h average in London the last time I heard. Any car 1/2 width, low on fuel (whatever it is), 2 seater and weather proof is a winner. The size of our cars was determined a 100 years ago, and we stick to it. Time for a major rethink. Think about simple tracks instead of roads, power from the track, controlled following distance and dynamic train forming, hopping off the track for last mile, we are so archaic.

  • Russell

    Great! We need more cars on our roads (like this). It may even be better for someone to have a large car and one like this than just the large one if their “second” car gets driven all the time for the daily commute. Would be interesting to see the resource/energy calcs to make this worthwhile. Self-driving shared cars like this that you can call up when you need would be better still. I can’t really understand why the box of metal you get stuck in on the way to work identifies you as a person but many people sure seem to think that way.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Two passengers? A bit of room in the back for groceries and work stuff?

    I can see them being a big hit. They look like they would be fun to drive and very practical in crowded areas and cities with pre-auto streets.

    If you live somewhere that has excellent public transportation (like lots of Europe) then you’d have no need for a ‘normal’ car.

    Wonder how many miles per kWh….

  • Matthew

    They will compete as you don’t have to ride in the rain…You can have climate control. ;) I don’t think we have to give up our comforts as we become more energy efferent.

  • JamesWimberley

    Nissan’s “alliance” with Renault is not one of equals. Nissan is effectively a subsidiary of Renault, which in 1999 appointed its own COO, the brilliant Carlos Ghosn, to turn it round.

    • Matt

      Even with rain gear, you get wet on a motor bike after a bit. Love my Buell, but it is a fact of live on a bike. So for going to work …
      And doesn’t three wheels get you around the past the helmet law in some states. For those people who can’t mess up their hair.

  • Jouni Valkonen

    hard to see how these could compete with ten times cheaper and more practical electric scooters: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1d/Monsoon_couple_on_motorcycle.jpg/640px-Monsoon_couple_on_motorcycle.jpg

    • eject

      impact safety? Car driving license? I do not have a motor bike license. The biggest scooter I am allowed to drive in the EU is a 50ccm one limited to 60 or 50 or 45 km/h (depending on the year of which it was put on the road for the first time, they dropped their speed more and more).

      This things will be great as soon as they are around for some time. There will be a huge after market for electric cars. Those electric motors sure can handle some more voltage at least for a short burst of time. Wait until the enthusiast arrive, those things could be real fun.

    • Zedicus

      The mere fact that it keeps you and your things completely dry is a huge plus. Not to mention a heater and air conditioning. Oh yeah, safety much? Three or four wheels and some walls make this thing much less dangerous. And there will also be more room for cargo.

      A full-sized car is often far too much, while a scooter is often far too little. For the affluent that make up the first world, this is a winner.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        That is untrue. With electric scooters you can have far more cargo. Optionally you can take your whole family with you. With UPET you can only fit one person with grocery bag.

        http://www.stuffonbikes.com/wp-content/gallery/scooters/vietnam2008-04-1012-56-452210sml.jpg

        http://www.travellingtara.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/sixppl.jpg

        • Bob_Wallace

          I don’t know why you keep uploading these pictures of lightly loaded motorbikes. I’ll have to dig out some of mine with a family of five on one and a very large sofa on another.

          The Twizy is a two passenger or one and luggage. It will possibly come in a one-person cargo version which could be very popular for pizza delivery, etc.

          I would imagine that within a couple of months after release there will be aftermarket “rear cargo baskets”/whatever for carrying the luggage/grocery stuff.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Oops, I’m late to the party. Twizys/Twizies have already been on the market for a while. Over 9,000 sold in 2012.

            There’s apparently a company selling racks, but I couldn’t locate their page.

            And owners have found solutions….

        • Zedicus

          Whatever could I have been thinking….

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