While the question “Can we go bigger?” may be what smartphone makers are asking themselves these days, the “smart car” industry seems to be going the other way, conceiving miniaturized rides for our city travels. So it was only a matter of time before they’d meet in the middle.

Readers, meet the Volkswagen Nils, the company’s concept of what futuristic urban commuting could look like. Unveiled in Frankfurt, the 1,000-lbs Nils is a big idea in a little package, with a 34-horsepower rear-seated electric motor, max speed of 81 mph, and (drum roll, please)… an HTC Desire HD that serves as a command center.

While the cradle may look like a standard phone mount on current cars, it’s more like a throne for the car’s “Portable Infotainment Device.” With linkage to the car’s system, it would tune the radio, supply navigation, stream playlists and even monitor your car’s status. (Well, at least theoretically it would do all that. The software isn’t quite there yet.) Nils’ other controls are sparse at best — wheel-mounted climate control, volume, cruise control, call answering and that’s about it.

It’s like the mother of all smartphone accessories, and the idea itself is intriguing. VW clearly envisions a future where our smartphones become more integrated pieces of essential automotive equipment — which makes sense, considering that car makers are probably trying to ditch as much onboard gear as possible for these ever-shrinking pods of steel. Of course, people would have to be tinier in the future as well, otherwise they’d have a heck of a time trying to fit inside this cockpit. (Click here for more views of the car, courtesy of Engadget.)

Fascinating that now, as more states adopt laws banning smartphone use in cars, one comes along to slap that notion in the face. If ideas like this take hold, though, could you see yourself running errands or commuting around in something like this?

[via Engadget]