Nissan wants to make electric vehicles the norm with its Leaf SUV

Nissan wants to make electric vehicles the norm with its Leaf SUV
Nissan wants to make electric vehicles the norm with its Leaf SUV

European design boss Mamoru Aoki says that the production 429bhp SUV won’t deviate much from the incredible IMx concept

Nissan’s European design boss has said that the company’s upcoming electric SUV will be the “breakthrough model” that will take battery-electric vehicles to full mainstream status.

Featuring a claimed 380-mile range on a single charge and a twin-motor, four-wheel-drive system offering 429bhp and 516lb ft of torque, the IMx concept debuted at the 2017 Tokyo motor show.

“The IMx is not just a concept car,” Nissan Design Europe boss Mamoru Aoki said at Nissan’s Paddington, London-based design centre which he has been running for the last few months. “In a few years, it will appear [in production].

“Of course, we have the new Leaf, but I think the [production version of the] IMx concept will become a breakthrough model.”

Aoki told us that the Imx’s exterior look clearly indicates Nissan’s next-generation design direction. “The exterior is very Japanese in its details, expressive but with purity and an expensive feeling… The IMx does not have a masculine look or a heavy appearance. It has a light feel and sheer surfaces.”

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Referring to the IMx’s distinctive interior trim, formed of alternating wood and translucent plastic laminates that can be illuminated from behind, Aoki said that the overall cabin concept reflects Japanese architecture and interior cues, in that traditional Japanese houses are very small and some rooms have to be put to more than one use.

“The interior is notably bigger than with a conventional vehicle,” he said. “There’s much more usable space, thanks to the totally flat floor allowed by the [underfloor] battery pack. The dashboard is also pushed right back [towards the windscreen] because the HVAC [heating, ventilation and air-con] unit is under the bonnet.”

The IMx will also feature the next-gen version of Nissan’s autonomous ProPilot technology.

Nissan will be hoping that the production version of the IMx will have the same sort of sector-defining impact as the first Qashqai crossover did on its launch in 2007. The underlying idea of the new breed of Nissans is to bring them closer to the company’s Japanese roots.

Some analysts believe that SUV/crossover sales could account for more than one-third of all European car sales by 2020.

Aoki has been with Nissan since 1989. He oversaw the design of three Infiniti cars, as well as the first 350Z.

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