Head of Nissan Design/Europe confirms LEAF SUV with 372 e-miles is coming
Based on a futuristic-looking IMX concept that Nissan revealed at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, the company has confirmed it will be taking its “vision of the future” into production. The car will essentially be a Leaf SUV that shares the Leaf platform.
By John Coulter, Current EV CMO
Says Mamoru Aoki, Nissan’s head of European design: “The IMx concept will become a breakthrough model. The interior is notably bigger than with a conventional vehicle and there’s much more usable space, thanks to the totally flat floor allowed by the battery pack. The dashboard is also pushed right back because the HVAC unit is under the bonnet. The IMx is not just a concept car. In a few years, it will appear [in production].”
Nissan’s Design Leader believes the production IMx will be a huge hit because of the booming crossover market. And he thinks it will be popular because the taller vehicle makes much better use of the Nissan’s EV platform. With gobs of interior space suddenly available because the fossil fuel motor’s gone, the cabin will be far roomier. Says Aoki: “The interior is notably bigger than with a conventional vehicle and there’s much more usable space.”
Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s corporate VP for global product strategy and product planning says the key to the car’s spaciousness is no more internal combustion engine. “It’s giving us a lot more freedom in terms of the packaging and how you can play with interior space. When you look at other brands coming out with EVs, they are adapted platforms, from combustion engines to electric vehicles. When you have a dedicated [electric] platform to work with, all those constraints are gone.”
Nissan says the pure electric will offer a 380-mile range on a single charge, which will provide 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. It will have dual motors – one for each axle, and a 4-wheel drive powertrain. Nissan’s autonomous ProPilot technology will be installed in the vehicle. The car will be roughly the size of a Nissan Rogue, or possibly a Tesla Model Y.
The automaker says its vehicle will provide “a glimpse into the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, Nissan’s approach to changing how cars are powered, driven and integrated with society.” The IMx also previews the company’s new design language, so it could change quite a few things for the Japanese automaker. If put into production, it could go against the Tesla Model X, currently the quickest, most efficient, and most popular electric crossover on the market.
IMx stands for Intelligent Mobility Crossover. Nissan explains: “At the core of the IMx’s technological features is a future version of ProPILOT that offers fully autonomous operation. When ProPILOT drive mode is selected, the system stows the steering wheel inside the dashboard and reclines all seats, giving the driver more space and allowing the vehicle’s occupants to relax and enjoy their commute. When Manual drive mode is selected, the vehicle returns the steering wheel and seats to their original position, seamlessly transferring control back to the driver.”
Says Nissan: “The IMx can also contribute to the social infrastructure like no other vehicle before it. For example, after transporting its owner to the airport, the IMx can park itself in a spot where the vehicle can connect to the local power grid and act as a “virtual” power plant by returning electricity to the grid, an extension of its vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-building features. Once the owner returns, the IMx can pick them up at the terminal and drive home. The whole process is carried out efficiently, thanks in part to the increased battery capacity and connected-car technologies, including Seamless Autonomous Mobility.”
By offering unprecedented enjoyment in motion and the ability to control the vehicle’s drive mode, Nissan IMx cars will transform the everyday life of drivers.
Says Daniele Schillaci, Executive VP for Global Marketing and Sales: “The IMx zero-emission crossover concept vehicle embodies the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility, Nissan is committed to changing the way people and cars communicate, as well as how cars interact with society in the near future and beyond.”
Says Nissan about the car’s exterior design: “The IMx’s styling conveys its clean and sporty electric-vehicle attributes by incorporating Nissan’s signature design features. From the familiar V-motion grille, the supple character line rises and flows to the hood and rear end. The broad surfaces of the distinctively shaped front fenders start from the grille and expand seamlessly onto the body sides, creating a sense of layers.
The vermillion accent color, contrasting vividly with the pearl white-colored body, is inspired by uramasari, which describes the beauty and extravagance found on the inside of traditional Japanese kimonos.”
Says Nissan about the car’s interior design: “The IMx concept vehicle’s interior adheres to the basic concept of space that can be found in a traditional Japanese house, suggesting a sense of openness.”
“The car’s panoramic OLED instrument panel displays a view of the external environment in the background. A separate, wood grain-patterned display, positioned below the instrument panel and wrapping around the interior door trims, gives occupants a subtle sense of the outside, similar to a shoji, a traditional Japanese paper screen.”
“The katanagare diagonal pattern on the seats has been delicately etched with a laser cutter. The head rest – patterned like kumiki, a Japanese interlocking wood puzzle – is made from silicon-material cushioning and a frame produced by a 3D printer.”
“Artificial intelligence enables the driver to control the instrument panel with eye movements and hand gestures. This intuitive interface results in fewer physical controls and switches, making the cabin of the IMx simple yet highly efficient and adding to its supreme comfort.”
The IMx all-electric crossover would seem to be the next logical step for Nissan, now that it has successfully brought its second-generation Leaf Plus, with an over 200-mile range, into the global market. Its brave, visionary move into the mass production of e-cars in 2010 made the Nissan Leaf the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, but Nissan has waited a long time to produce a Second Act. If the IMx Nissan Leaf SUV EV is everything the company has promised, it will be well worth the wait.