nissan land glider

Nissan says it will roll out an urban electric vehicle that's even better than alliance partner Renault's Twizy. While Renault is marketing the Twizy small electric car as an alternative to scooters on European streets, Nissan thinks its upcoming EV will have more to offer.

Etienne Henry, Nissan's head of product strategy and planning, said the Nissan urban car will be compact and nimble like a motorcycle, and will offer protection from weather conditions and the safety features of a conventional car. While the Twizy is also working on combining these functions, Nissan thinks there are "optimizations possible with this kind of vehicle," Henry told Automotive News Europe.

Some are speculating that the optimization could be delivered through ideas from the Nissan Land Glider, a two-seat electric concept car Nissan began showing in 2009. While that made for "a very interesting concept with very challenging and meaningful technology," Henry declined to comment on whether any part of the Land Glider would end up in the urban EV.

Henry sees a correlation between the Nissan Qashqai compact crossover, where he'd served as product manager, with the concept EV. While the concept car mixes motorbikes and cars, the Quashqai fused the utility of a compact hatchback with the styling of an SUV. It will also address another European trend – fast growing, congested cities, he said.

The Automotive News piece also sees Toyota traveling down this path. At this year's Geneva auto show, the Japanese competitor showed its i-Road urban electric concept car. The three-wheel i-Road will only see limited production at first, and will join other Toyota EVs for a car-sharing program next year in Grenoble, France.