Nissan is the latest auto manufacturer to declare its hand in the lead up to the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show with the announcement that a new version of the PIVO electric concept car will take center stage. The PIVO 3 will be joined at the Nissan stand by two other concept electric vehicles, a light commercial van prototype and smart house technology that allows a Nissan LEAF's batteries to supply a home with electricity.

Despite the list of cars and technology Nissan plans to show in Tokyo, there's only a few items that haven't already been unveiled at previous events. The ESFLOW electric sports car had its world debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show back in March, while the TOWNPOD crossover EV made its public debut back in September 2010 at the Paris Auto Show. This leaves the PIVO 3 as the only previously unseen concept car set to make an appearance in Tokyo.

The PIVO 3 is the third in a line of PIVO electric concept cars Nissan has developed, starting with the original PIVO that was one of the stars of the Tokyo Motor Show way back in 2005 and followed by the PIVO 2 in 2007. The most distinctive feature of both those vehicles was the fully rotating cabin design that made reversing a thing of the past. The PIVO 3 does away with this unique design in favor of a (slightly) more traditional arrangement.


The PIVO 3 is a compact three-seater with the driver positioned centrally in front of the two rear passenger seats in a 1+2 layout. Designed as an urban commuter vehicle, the PIVO 3's body is just three meters (9.84 ft) long thanks in part to the use of in-wheel motors to propel the car.

While Nissan has done away with the rotating cabins found in its predecessors, the PIVO 3 will still be able to get out of most sticky situations without reversing thanks to its zero turn gap capabilities and wide steering angle that allows the car to hang a U-turn on roads just four meters (13.12 ft) wide.

The concept car's most futuristic feature is Automated Valet Parking (AVP) that allows the PIVO 3 to automatically drive, locate a parking space and park without any driver input. The vehicle can then charge itself and return to the driver when summoned by smartphone. Unfortunately, it might be some time before such a feature makes it into Nissan's production vehicles, as it also requires "smart" parking lot infrastructure to function.

Nissan's deputy divisional General Manager for product strategy, Francois Bancon, says Nissan is currently considering the next step in its electric vehicle strategy after the first wave of EVs from the company in the form of the LEAF, the Infiniti EV and LCV EV. Bancon says there are a number of candidates and PIVO 3 is in the mix, but that the company is still investigating what kind of category and body type to pursue. He adds that no decision on whether it will be the PIVO 3 that gets the nod until around 2016/17.


The 2011 Tokyo Motor Show will also see the debut of the NV350 light commercial van that comes in above the NV200 and is scheduled to launch in Japan in summer 2012, with other markets to follow. The van features keyless push button ignition, which Nissan claims is a world first for a commercial vehicle, along with a dash-mounted shift lever and foot-operated parking brake. A multi-function display is located in the center stack, while a reversing camera will be available as an optional extra.

The vehicle's cargo area is up to three meters (9.84 ft) in length with 50:50 split fold-forward rear seats and embedded mounting nuts in the interior side panels so the cargo area can be customized with hooks and shelving fixtures. Nissan says the NV350 also boasts improved fuel economy but hasn't yet revealed specific figures or powertrain details. We'll bring you more info from the floor once the Tokyo Motor Show gets underway.

EV technology

In addition to the vehicles, Nissan will also display its Smart House "NSH-2012" technology, which combines solar panels, fuel cells and power stored in a Nissan LEAF's batteries to maintain a steady power supply to the home independent of weather conditions or power outage.

Nissan will also introduce technologies developed as part of its PURE DRIVE initiative that aims to boost the environmental performance of conventional powertrains. The display will include cutaways and videos showcasing clean diesel, hybrid, start/stop system and XTRONIC Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) technologies.

Nissan will hold a public preview event for the PIVO 3 on November 12 at its Global Headquarters Gallery in Yokohama, while the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show 2011 will run from December 3 to 11 at Tokyo Big Sight.