Innovative vehicle concepts at Tokyo Motor Show

|     Azlan Othman in Tokyo     |

THE latest technology of Japanese automaker Nissan got a lot of attention at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show with its autonomous drive and electric vehicles. Nissan, which holds the title as the global sales leader in electric vehicles, unveiled an autonomous all-electric crossover, the IMx and a new performance version of the Nissan Leaf Nismo at the Tokyo Motor Show 2017.

The performance-oriented Serena Nismo and an updated Skyline also debuted at the show. A total of 13 vehicles from Nissan were on display.

The Nissan booth featured a ‘spiral’ design theme symbolising the company’s past, present and future commitments to making exciting products. It showcased the values Nissan strives to offer, including the company’s latest electric vehicles. A simulator lets visitors experience the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility.

The Nissan IMx, an all-electric crossover concept vehicle offering fully autonomous operation and a driving range of more than 600 kilometres, was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in front of packed local and foreign journalists.

The innovative concept vehicle provides a glimpse into the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, Nissan’s approach to changing how cars are powered, driven and integrated with society. It’s designed to strengthen the link between car and driver as a close, reliable partner that delivers a safer, more convenient and more enjoyable drive.

Nissan IMx and Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept at Tokyo Motor Show
Nissan’s designers sought to redefine the interior space of the IMx to create a sense of openness while maintaining a feeling of privacy
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 performance-oriented Serena Nismo
The interior of a Nissan Leaf with Pro Pilot and E-Pedal technologies
ABOVE & BELOW: Photos show Nissan Leaf electric vehicles

Daniele Schillaci, executive vice president for global marketing and sales at the speaking during the Tokoyo Motor Show. – PHOTOS: AZLAN OTHMAN

By offering unprecedented enjoyment in motion and the ability to control the vehicle’s drive mode, the Nissan IMx aims to transform the everyday life of drivers.

“The IMx zero-emission crossover concept vehicle embodies the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility,” said Daniele Schillaci, executive vice president for global marketing and sales, zero-emission vehicles and the battery business. “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.”

At the core of the IMx’s technological features is a future version of Pro Pilot that offers fully autonomous operation. When Pro Pilot 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.

The Nissan IMx zero-emission concept vehicle adopts Nissan’s new EV platform, designed for maximum efficiency. It allows the floor to be completely flat, resulting in a cavernous cabin and enhanced driving dynamics. With a low centre of gravity, the chassis delivers sharp handling that promises to redefine the crossover segment.

The powerful yet quiet powertrain delivers enhanced excitement. The IMx is propelled by a pair of high-output electric motors at the front and rear, giving it all-wheel-drive capability. They combine to produce 320 kW of power and an astounding 700 Nm of torque, sourced from a high-capacity battery which has been redesigned and re-engineered for increased energy density. This new battery supports a driving range of more than 600 kilometres on a single charge, so occupants can enjoy an extended adventure without worrying about recharging.

The Nissan 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.

Until now, vehicles have been designed with a clear differentiation between exterior and interior. Exterior design provides a sense of security from the outside, while the interior design gives drivers an appropriate environment for concentrating on driving.

This purpose-based differentiation is likely to change with the arrival of fully autonomous vehicles. Nissan’s designers sought to redefine the interior space of the IMx to create a sense of openness, while maintaining a feeling of privacy. To achieve this, they endeavored to design a space that links up the inside and outside of the vehicle.

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 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.

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.

Nissan also debuted the Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept at the Tokyo Motor Show with enhanced aerodynamics and performance, the Leaf Nismo shows how an EV can be transformed into a true driving machine.

Launched in September, the new Nissan Leaf comes with the latest iteration of Nissan’s Pro Pilot single-lane autonomous driving technology. It also includes Pro Pilot Park, the first technology in a Japanese-made vehicle to help drivers park their vehicle by automatically controlling the accelerator, brakes, steering, shift changing and parking brake.

Another feature of the new Leaf is e-Pedal, which lets the driver start, accelerate, decelerate, stop and hold the car by using only the accelerator pedal.

The Nismo Concept version of the new Leaf has a sporty new exterior designed by Nismo, Nissan’s motorsports and in-house tuning division. The application of Nismo racing technology to the car’s body results in enhanced aerodynamic performance and less lift, without sacrificing the Leaf’s excellent drag coefficient. The black interior features Nismo’s signature red accents, creating an exciting, high-performance feel.

On the road, the Leaf Nismo Concept offers a truly exciting drive. This is thanks to a sport-tuned suspension and high-performance tires, not to mention a custom-tuned computer that delivers instant acceleration at all speeds. The Leaf Nismo Concept combines the environmentally friendly character of an electric car with the exciting driving experience that’s always been a hallmark of the Nismo brand.

Nissan also showcased the Serena Nismo at the Tokyo Motor Show. The Serena Nismo offers Nismo’s sporting technology – head-turning styling and exhilarating performance – without sacrificing the base model’s family-friendly, utilitarian nature. The exterior design appropriately reflects Nismo’s performance-oriented nature, with custom aero parts that enhance the aggressiveness of its appearance. Inside, occupants will enjoy Nismo’s signature red accents.

The Serena Nismo features sharper handling, thanks to a custom sport-tuned suspension system. A new engine control module and exhaust system add extra excitement and flair to the overall driving experience. The Serena Nismo is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in November 2017.

Nissan’s premium sports sedan has always featured cutting-edge technology that stirs the driver’s emotions. All Skyline models now come with Nissan’s All-Around Safety Shield technology. This can be combined with the high-performance, environmentally friendly hybrid system and Direct Adaptive Steering, which provides intuitive handling for easier and safer driving.

Changes to the Skyline include a revamped exterior and new aluminum wheel designs that spice up what was already one of the most attractive vehicles in its class. Inside the cabin, the steering wheel and shift knob are new, as is the instrument panel’s surface finish, giving the interior an even higher premium quality. The new Skyline is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in December 2017.