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It seems to me that Japanese motor companies compete much like the American ones. Once one company has an idea, they all have to do it – only bigger, or smaller, or faster or … you get the idea.

I think this is why they spent the last decade (what the Brits wittily call the “naughties”) developing city car concepts to out do each other. They might be an innovative glimpse of what we will be driving in the future, but right now they make me laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, small compact cars with low mass are a great way to eek out the dwindling supplies of fossil fuels that remain. No matter how much there is left, it is a finite supply. And while the freeways are crammed with 9000lb pickup trucks (generally with one person on board) who is going to want to sit in these sort of creations? The draft from a passing F-150 of Dodge would likely tip this thing over.

So what’s this lunar rover meets melted plastic thing got going for it, concept wise?

For starters, the car is electric, each wheel having its own motor. This makes steering the wheels much easier, so they can all be rotated to 180 degrees, meaning the Pivo car move in any direction it likes. Here’s an example of doing it’s party piece – parking sideways.

It’s one step up on the BMW Isseta, which you could drive into your garage, right up to the far wall, only to find you couldn’t open the forward hinged door, and couldn’t reverse because the car wasn’t equipped with reverse gear.

In an effort to simplify the look of the exterior, the headlights are hidden behind the car’s plastic skin. They kind of glow through it. Great for people to see you, probably not so great for the whole headlights-illuminating-the-road-ahead thing which headlights are famous for. I am all for simplification though, I mean why do we build cars, planes, houses and everything else from so many disparate parts?

The inside is just as whacky as the outside.

The driver has the center seat with two passengers on the sides. Again the car is formed with a minimum piece part mentality. Unless they have conquered the art of blending soft and hard plastics in one forming, those seats are going to be rock hard to sit on. Probably not a big issue since the Pivo is battery powered, so won’t make it much further that the shops and back anyway.

Visibility is great. The windows, er plastics, surround you and the pillars are thin. Smashing. Even I, with my beer bottle glasses, should be able to see out. But Nissan wanted to up the safety factor (not a bad idea since there’s only a sheet of floppy plastic between your squishy parts and that passing 18-wheeler). So they fitted their “Around View Monitor” system to watch the blind spots. Blind spots? There’s more glass in this thing than a Hogwarts greenhouse. Maybe they plan to make it able to take off vertically and the blind spot monitor would inform you of Harrier jump jets hovering overhead?

The final pièce de résistance is on the dashboard. See those cute little eyes staring out of the windscreen? They’re part of an “infrared commander.” That little guy’s intended to make the driver’s life better. It can recognize words and gestures, and “interacts verbally.” So, I’m sure you can see where this is going…

“Turn up the heat”

You want a radio station with a beat?”

“No, I said turn up the heater, I’m cold.”

“No, you not old, you young … You my friend.”

“No, please turn up the heat, I’m freezing.”

“You bleeding? Oh no, my friend is bleeding. We need to go to hospital.”

“If you don’t turn up the %$#@! heat I’m going to take you to the hospital.”

“Take you to the hospital? Ok, engaging autodrive to nearest hospital. I’ll call them to make sure they know my friend is bleeding.”

“Autodrive?! Phone the hospital? Don’t you dare!”

“Care? Of course I care, I really do … You my friend. I take you to hospital now.”

“No, no no …” (to the sound of tires squealing).

Yep, Pivo drivers will be stacked up like cordwood at emergency rooms around the countries while their electromechanical pals call everyone in their address book informing them of their friend’s life threatening condition (in a chirpy voice, of course).

What of the gestures? Well, I’m glad you asked, because I’m out of ideas … but I’m sure you have a few!

And why do we build things from so many parts?



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