Volkswagen has followed the lead of its upmarket subsidiary Audi and unveiled a new electric pod car concept for the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, which kicks off in less than two weeks’ time.

However, while Audi’s concept featured a two-seat configuration, Volkswagen’s new Nils is designed for just one occupant, allowing designers to make it a size smaller again.

Understandably, the Nils is quite light, weighing in at just over 1,000 pounds.

It was developed together with Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and is a preview of one possible solution for crowded urban environments of the future, a solution Volkswagen likes to call “minimalist mobility”.

The design is based around a light but sturdy aluminum spaceframe, and features gullwing style doors and free-standing wheels. This should ensure that it’s fun to drive, as well as being green.

Additionally, despite its compact dimensions, Volkswagen promises that the concept fulfills all safety requirements for contemporary vehicles. The automaker has gained considerable knowledge in building small from its previous 1-Liter and L1 concepts.

As mentioned, the Nils is an electric car. It features a compact electric motor that weighs just 42 pounds and has a 20 horsepower nominal rating and a short-term peak rating of 33 horsepower.

The battery has a capacity of 5.3 kWh and takes just two hours for a full recharge. The plug port is located at the back underneath the rear lighting module.

The motor, battery and all other components are so compact in fact that there is still space for a smallish trunk.

And since it’s only designed for urban commuting, its total driving range from a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries is 40 miles and its top speed is limited to 80 mph. The 0-60 mph sprint takes roughly 11 seconds.

Stay tuned as press days for the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show draw closer, but in the meantime follow our complete coverage of the event by clicking here.

For a more in-depth look at the new 2011 Volkswagen Nils Concept, head over to our sister site GreenCarReports.