How the Nissan Pivo Works

The original Nissan Pivo at its debut in Tokyo. The eco-friendly concept car featured a rotating cockpit, electronic controls and ultra-modern design. See more concept car pictures.
Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images News

In 2005, Japan's Nissan Motor Co. unveiled a most unusual-looking concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show. Appearing to be part robot, part octopus and part fishbowl, the Pivo defied categorization. The first Pivo, a fully electric battery car, turned many heads while being environmentally friendly. When Nissan followed up two years later with the Pivo 2, people gawked at the technological innovations as they eventually found themselves wondering, can your car actually be your friend?

Both cars wowed the auto world with high-tech advances. Pivo mated a rotating, pod-like cockpit with an electric battery-powered chassis. Nissan engineers skipped the bulky mechanical linkages found on most modern cars in favor of video game-inspired "by-wire" controls that save space and weight. Pivo's high-tech components lay swaddled beneath fluid bodywork and its three-person interior enveloped occupants like trendy lounge chairs. The goal was to create an inviting and eco-friendly vehicle for dense urban environments.

If you happened to actually get your hands on the steering wheel of a Pivo -- you can't, by the way; they're not for sale and aren't currently planned for production -- you could change directions by simply pivoting the cabin. Nissan considered this a vital aspect of the car's design, since its name is a play on the word pivot.

Imagine: No more clumsy three-point turns. Actually, you can say goodbye to three-point turns altogether, since the rotating cockpit eliminates the need to shift into reverse. No more nervous U-turns -- the kind that make you wonder if you'll scrape the far curb. You can finally say sayonara to parallel parking panic attacks, since you could drive the 2.7 meter (9 feet) long Pivo sideways into the tiniest of curbside openings. With the Pivo 2, Nissan developers took innovation to another level, incorporating elements of artificial intelligence into the design with an on-board, robotic "buddy" that aids the driver.

Masato Inoue, one of the Pivo's lead designers, said on Nissan's website that his team's goal was to change the very definition of what a car is. For now, here's a peek at the Pivo and the possible future of automotive technology.