Back in the '80s, we'd assumed 21st century transport would involve flying cars, squirting our bodies through vast networks of sky tubes, or simply beaming from one location to another. Sadly, none of that has happened yet, but we can at least take solace in the fact that one day our roads might be populated by futuristic-looking, single-seater electric cars like the VW Nils.
Aesthetically, the Nils isn't a car we'd aspire to drive. But it has a funky part-Beetle, part-F1 kind of vibe, and a pair of cool polycarbonate gullwing doors help to differentiate it from the plethora of mundane motors that clutter our roads today.
The Nils gets its power from a 15kW electric motor that packs a 25kW 'overboost' function to help it reach 62mph from a standstill in 11 seconds. Sadly, its battery pack isn't very large -- the 5.3kWh unit is less than a fifth the size of that of the Nissan Leaf and it's only good for a range of around 40 miles.
The upside is that a battery of this size is relatively inexpensive. Its small capacity means it can be charged via a 230V electrical outlet in a maximum of 2 hours, according to Volkswagen.
Every future car worth its salt should come with a frickin' laser, and the Nils is no exception. Sadly, it's not for blasting other motorists to smithereens. Instead, it's designed to scan the road ahead for objects and stop the car automatically before an accident occurs.
The Nils tech package is rounded off with two screens. One is a 7-inch TFT display mounted just ahead of the steering wheel, showing the car's speed, remaining range and other energy-related data. The second is a detachable display that clips to the A-pillar between the windscreen and side window. This affords control of navigation, radio, media, telephone and trip computer functions, and can also be removed and used when not in the car.
VW has no official plans to build the Nils, but perhaps we shouldn't rule it out completely. Although it is a concept, the company has said it's both technically realistic and economically feasible. Plus, if Renault can get away with building the bonkers Twizy, there's no reason the Nils can't get a slice of real-world action, too.