Nimbus One EV
Good things come in small packages
Super small, electric, and with interesting design and functionality - the Nimbus One is a three-wheeled EV of the (very near) future.
By Reed Berry
Sun, Aug 21, 2022 09:24 PM PST
images by the author, if not stated otherwise.
There's an old saying, "Good things come in small packages". That saying is certainly being put to the test today as I get behind the wheel of a one-off prototype of a new electric vehicle that should be in production and available by late 2023, the Nimbus One EV.
Unless you count the little metal faux Army jeep my brother and I used to pedal around our front yard as kids, this is THE smallest vehicle I've ever driven. But, between its tiny size and the fact it looks like something out of a futuristic movie, I'm pretty excited to jump inside and see what the Nimbus One has to offer. One of my friends said it looks like a super-sized Rug Doctor, and another commented that a car this small simply can’t be comfortable. Clearly, they're just jealous because I get to drive it and they don't.
The styling of this three-wheeled EV, in my opinion, has eye appeal. The clever body design gives the vehicle a rather sleek appearance while maximizing interior space as much as one can in a vehicle of this size. At first glance, the Nimbus may appear to be a one-seater but, surprisingly, it does have a back seat. And, while it may be more practical for groceries, a child safety seat or pets, the rear seat does accommodate an actual adult-sized human. After being seated, you simply place your legs around the driver's seat directly in front of you.
Entering the vehicle, some of the unique features become apparent. The doors open forward rather than opening out. The large windshield provides outstanding visibility, as do the side windows. A single windshield wiper will keep the windshield clear on rainy days. Not long ago, I road tested another small EV, the Arcimoto FUV, which is steered with handlebars and accelerates using a hand-operated throttle. The Nimbus One has an actual steering wheel and there is a foot throttle for acceleration, making the vehicle more car-like. There is a brake pedal to the left of the foot throttle for easy braking, and there's a front airbag for safety.
While the acceleration of the Nimbus One isn't exactly rapid, it does accelerate smoothly to the desired speed (up to 50 miles per hour) and handles quite well. As for turns, they take a little getting used to in the Nimbus One because the vehicle leans going into turns, as would a motorcycle or even an animal on the run, and balances itself. As I straighten the wheel, the Nimbus returns to its upright position. Pretty cool idea but a strange sensation at first, making it feel a little more like an amusement park ride than a vehicle. But it is practical - and fun - so I like it.
After all, the Nimbus One is not a car. It's basically a motorcycle with a body, classified as an "auto cycle." This means that you don't need a motorcycle license to drive one - your regular driver license will do in most states - and, because of the enclosed passenger compartment, you don't need to wear a helmet. And, in case you're thinking a small vehicle like this can't possibly be useful in carrying things as you run your important errands, you are mistaken. The Nimbus One has a roof rack, as well as a handy pull-down rack on the back of the vehicle to hold a suitcase, tote box or even an Igloo cooler.
The interior is what you would describe as minimalistic. You don't have a lot inside but you don't really need much to operate this small, around-town EV. And, in my opinion, that's a plus. There are fewer distractions to take your attention away from safe driving. The car has a small touch screen to operate and monitor vehicle functions. You can stream music via Bluetooth to make your drive more enjoyable. Another cool feature is that you can send messages to a display screen on the outside of the vehicle to call for help, monitor charging progress while outside the vehicle, etc. The car has a heater for interior comfort, and air conditioning will be an available option.
Another unique feature of the Nimbus One is the variety of convenient options for charging the batteries. At home, plug it into to a standard wall outlet. A full charge takes around five hours. If you're out and about and need to charge, connect to public Level 2 charger and you'll go from zero to 95% in around 90 minutes. But, for those who live in apartments or condos without easy access to a power outlet to plug into, Nimbus will offer an optional charging unit that you can use in your apartment, condo or office to charge the batteries while your vehicle is parked outside because the batteries (four batteries in compartments under the driver's seat) are removable. The plan is, as the demand for these vehicles grows, to have battery swapping kiosks around town so you can literally just pull over at a neighborhood kiosk and swap the batteries for ones that are charged and ready to use. Great idea!
Despite its small size, Nimbus One is loaded with safety features, with plans to provide over-the-air safety updates in the future. Nimbus has an Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) that provides automated emergency braking, as well as lane departure warning, antilock braking and traction control. The body of the vehicle is a high-strength steel and aluminum alloy structure with a frontal crumple zone. The Nimbus Balance system allows this narrow vehicle to maintain stability, as mentioned previously, by leaning into turns.
Another obvious advantage to driving Nimbus One is that you can park just about anywhere. Parking in any major city, especially here in L.A., can be a nightmare. My daily driver is a fairly small car, so I have the advantage of grabbing parking spaces along the curb that many vehicles cannot fit into. But, at just 34 inches in width (less than half the width of a Smart car) and 91 inches in length, the Nimbus One can fit into even smaller parking spaces with ease. If you're on a tight schedule while running errands or just need to make a quick pick-up from a local restaurant or retail store, think of the time you'll save when you don't have to keep circling the block to find a spot to park.
But remember, the top speed of the Nimbus One is 50 mph, so you will not be taking it on the freeway. It is for around-town drives on surface streets and rural roads. If you want to go a little faster, not a lot faster bust fast enough to take to the highways, another model in development, the Nimbus One S, will reach a top speed of 75 mph and will have a range of 128 miles. The One S should be available in early 2024.
So, is the price tag of Nimbus One as small as the vehicle itself? Actually, it is. EVs have, to date, been quite pricey and out of reach for many car buyers. The planned selling price of Nimbus will start at just under $10,000 or, if you prefer, you'll be able to rent one for $200 per month. This is a great way for just about anyone considering an EV to dip their toe in the water and test the technology and benefits at a very reasonable cost. And, while the Nimbus will not be rolling into your driveway until late next year, you can reserve one on the Nimbus website for just $100.
Final Thoughts On The Nimbus One
Overall, I am quite impressed with the Nimbus One, as well as the design creativity and technology that has gone into it. I love the fact that the Nimbus One is three times greener than a standard electric car, because it uses fewer materials and batteries.
Needless to say, with a top speed of 50 mph and a range of 93 miles, this would not be a good choice as a primary vehicle for most people. As a secondary vehicle for short drives, especially considering the low price, this really seems like a no-brainer to me.
This is a very efficient and cost-effective way to maneuver around town, not to mention getting quite a few looks in the process. Think how practical the Nimbus One would be for restaurant delivery drivers, as an example, that want to maximize their earnings by minimizing their driving expenses.
Obviously, I am driving a prototype and, as is the case with one-offs, it's not perfect and is a little rough around the edges. I'm looking forward to driving production models of the Nimbus One and One S when they become available.
The Nimbus One may be classified as a motorcycle and drive like a car but, whatever it is, this tiny EV is seriously cool!
Check out nimbusev.com for more information on the Nimbus One.
About The Author
Known professionally as "The Traffic Guy," Reed Berry has been a driver safety educator for over 30 years. Reed has conducted traffic school classes and suspended license workshops throughout California, and has served as keynote speaker at safety conferences and corporate events across America. He has appeared on radio and television programs both in the U.S. and internationally to discuss safety-related issues. A contributor to LA Car since 2003, Reed Berry is a member of Motor Press Guild, the Los Angeles Press Club and SAG-AFTRA.