Italian Hardbody

An automotive designer best known for building sports cars shifts gears to invent a safer subcompact

by Courtesy of Pininfarina

Courtesy of Pininfarina

Pint-size cars are the practical option in European cities, whose streets seem to be designed for wheelbarrows, but they come up short on safety. Keenly aware of this dilemma, Milan-based automotive designer Pininfarina has reconsidered subcompact safety from the inside out with its Nido concept car. Named after the Italian word for â€nest,†Nido refers to the unique design for protecting passengers of this diminutive two-seater (it´s 2.5 feet shorter than a Mini Cooper). The rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive Nido is constructed of a lightweight yet extremely rigid corrugated stainless-steel chassis, and a robust steel-tube frame surrounds the passenger compartment like a Nascar roll cage. These are excellent safety features, but the innovation is in the namesake: The seats and dashboard are suspended within the cage between crushable aluminum absorbers. In the event of an accident, the passenger â€sled†moves in the opposite direction of the impact to dissipate shock. Pininfarina is investigating the feasibility of producing a limited run of 20,000 Nidos over the next five years, but don´t expect them Stateside, where Truckzillas
rule the land.

THE SPECS
Length.........................................9.5 ft.
Width.............................................5.5 ft.
Height...........................................5 ft.
Wheelbase..................................6.8 ft.
Engine...........................................None (yet)

Stephen Rountree
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Here´s How The Cutie Crumbles

During a head-on collision, two foam-filled steel pyramids [1] in the front end absorb some of the crash energy and then further divert impact forces away from the Nido´s driver and passenger along the corrugated steel floorboards and chassis [2]. The occupants themselves ride atop an internal â€sledâ€** [3]**. that slides up to 13.8 inches forward independent of the chassis as the crash occurs, compressing a cluster of variable-density aluminum honeycomb absorbers [4]. to more gently dissipate the shock. Similar absorbers behind the sled [5]. soak up crash energy from rear-end impacts.