Green Update–>Steve Jobs and Nissan, Pininfarina and the Nido

Leafing my way through the car news today, I found that Nissan just scored a marketing coup. In a widely watched presentation for the new iPhone 4 yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs demo’d an ad for the upcoming Leaf and entered a contest to win one.

Now millions of gadgeteers who are fascinated with the newest iPhone—and the latest Steve Jobs exaggerations about it—just got zapped with a smart Nissan ad interactively showing features of the car. Said Steve:

So now we’ve got this cool navigator on the bottom. It spins the car. The only way you’ll be able to get one of these is through this ad on the iPhone. So if you want to get a Leaf you need to get an iPhone….

Well, not really, but that’s part of the Jobs hype. He meant, I think, winning a Leaf through the iPhone contest ad. But Nissan will get great mileage out of this “mobile advertising platform,” no doubt.

More interesting to car gurus will be a prototype EV unveiled recently by the great Italian design house Pininfarina, which not only designs, but now builds cars. The Nido demonstrates that small EVs don’t have to look like sardine cans, but can be well-styled and functional.

The concept behind Nido is to create “a veritable laboratory designed both to explore the electrification of a small city car and to develop a modular floorpan.” Using an aluminum space frame (I know, I know!), the intent is to produce four different EV and hybrid vehicles—the two-seater shown, a 2+2, a pickup, and a light van. Details are in the press release here.

Autoweek claims Pininfarina wants to sell these cars to other automakers (to brand as their own, presumably), and to city governments and utility companies, which can tailor them to their needs. For Europe, that is an innovative idea that just might catch on. For U.S. cities, who knows?

With a range of about 87 miles and a top speed of 74 mph, the Nido could be in production in a 20-month timeframe at a cost of $150-160 million, said CEO Silvio Angori. A plug-in hybrid version is planned, plus a four-seat, longer-range BlueCar, for which there are “10,000 preliminary orders.”

City cars like the Nido are coming, eventually, even to the slow-moving U.S. market. Can the Nido concept of custom-tailoring and rebranding EVs catch on here?

—jgoods

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1 Comment

  1. Vehicles based on the Pontiac Fiero model of space frame and non-structural body panels can be a very flexible base for a custom manufacturers. Since the space frame provides 100% of the cars structural integrity, you can do just about anything with the body. The real problem is this: Do we need another brand?

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