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Nissan shows off ball shaped, swivelling electric vehicle that talks

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Nissan's ball-shaped electric vehicle can squeeze into tight spots without backing up because its wheels turn 90 degrees and the cabin part of the car can rotate in a complete circle.

The Pivo 2, being shown at the Tokyo auto show later this month, is a three-seat ecological commuter car that's fully working but too expensive to go on commercial sale just yet, according to Nissan Motor Co. officials.

In a demonstration Friday, the concept car rolled up next to a tiny parking space, turned its wheels at an angle, then scooted into the space without the back-and-forth jockeying that most cars would need.

The top part of the car swivels 360 degrees, independent of the wheels, so drivers can turn to face any direction they want.

Nissan designers added robotics functions to the Pivo 2, an upgrade of a car shown a couple of years ago, so that a bobbing mechanical head with eyes near the steering wheel speaks in a cute electronic voice to provide companionship.

The car can also decipher the facial image of the driver to detect whether a person is angry or happy. The robotic head says preprogrammed phrases to deal with various emotions, such as, ``Relax, don't worry,'' if the driver seems upset.

``We want people to feel how cars can be so much fun,'' said Shiro Nakamura, Nissan's head designer.

Nissan also plans to unveil its flagship sportscar Nissan GTR at the Tokyo Motor Show, set to open to the public Oct. 27.

But Nakamura said Nissan also wants to emphasize cuddly, less brawny offerings, like the Pivo 2.

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Nissan shows off ball shaped, swivelling electric vehicle that talks
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