Volkswagen will be showing off NILS, a single-seat electric concept vehicle, in Frankfurt. The compact offering is 50 cm shorter than the Up! at 3.04m long, and is just 0.39m wide from wheel to wheel and a mere 1.2m tall.

The design has the same basic layout as a F1 car, with the driver in the middle, the engine at the back, and free-standing outboard wheels. The vehicle, which features an aluminium space frame, wing doors and free-standing wheels, has a range of 65 km and a top speed of 130 kph.

The 460 kg concept can accelerate to 100 kph in less than 11 seconds, and is powered by a reasonably small electric motor weighing 19 kg offering a nominal 15 kW (and short-term peak power of 25 kW), working with a one-speed transmission.

A 5.3 kWh lithium-ion battery supplies the juice, and can be charged either via a conventional 230V electrical outlet – with a maximum charging time of two hours – or at an electric vehicle charging station. The socket is located at the back underneath the rear lighting module, and all drive unit components are located compactly in an aluminium housing at the rear of NILS; drive is to the rear wheels.

The motor, battery and all other components are so compact that there is still space for a small, but practical, bootspace. The body-coloured area above the rear lighting module swings upward, revealing space suitable for items such as a case of drinks and a bag.

The car features a purely mechanical steering, with the low weight meaning power assistance is unnecessary, says VW. Suspension is double wishbones front and rear, and NILS sits on 17-inch alloys equipped with 115/80 (front) and 125/80 (rear) tyres optimised for low rolling resistance.

There’s ESP, electric traction by electric motor and battery regeneration as well as an automatic distance control system, which uses radar sensors to scan the space in front of the vehicle over a distance of about 200m and uses brake interventions to ensure that the distance to vehicles in traffic in front of the car doesn’t drop below a specified minimum value. Front Assist, which warns the driver of a potential collision, is integrated in the ADC system.

Aluminium features highly in the entire body – the body in white is produced from extruded aluminium, cast aluminium and sheet aluminium, while the roof frame together with the door mounts, a roll bar, the bootspace and the front bulkhead consist of high-strength sheet aluminium.

Elsewhere, extruded aluminium is used in the side sills, the transverse profiles and the front and rear car sections, and the use of the material continues on the front and rear side body. Parts that are made of high-strength plastic include the bumpers and the trim panels on the side sills. The door windows are made of lightweight, scratch-resistant, layered polycarbonate, while the front window is made of laminated safety glass.

Mod cons include a seven-inch TFT display which shows speed and energy flow, while another graphic display offers information on the driving range. The NILS also features the Portable Infotainment Device (PID) mobile multifunctional device as seen in the new up! Snapped into the A-pillar to the right of the instrument cluster, it offers via touchscreen functions related to navigation, radio, media, telephone and trip computer.

To save on weight and costs, certain functional elements and controls do without electrical assistance – the side mirrors, for example, are adjusted manually. The heating and ventilation system has full electronic control though, and there is seat heating. The headlights are bi-xenons, while the indicator lights and daytime running lights are white and yellow LEDs.