De­sign boss tips Nis­san crossover as break­through EV

Autocar - - NEWS -

NIS­SAN’S UP­COM­ING pure­elec­tric crossover will be the break­through model that makes bat­tery-elec­tric ve­hi­cles truly main­stream, ac­cord­ing to Nis­san De­sign Europe boss Mamoru Aoki (pic­tured, be­low).

Speak­ing at Nis­san’s de­sign cen­tre in Lon­don, Aoki told Au­to­car: “Of course, we have the new Leaf, but I think the [pro­duc­tion ver­sion of the] IMX con­cept will be­come a break­through model.”

The IMX con­cept made its de­but at the Tokyo show last Oc­to­ber, promis­ing a 380-mile range on a sin­gle charge and a dual-mo­tor all-wheel-drive pow­er­train with a pro­posed 429bhp and 516lb ft of torque. Nis­san also says the next gen­er­a­tion of its au­ton­o­mous Propi­lot tech­nol­ogy will be fea­tured on the IMX.

“The IMX is not just a con­cept car. In a few years, it will ap­pear [in pro­duc­tion],” Aoki said, hint­ing that it could do for Nis­san what the first Qashqai crossover man­aged when it was launched in 2007.

His en­thu­si­asm for the IMX is not just be­cause it will en­ter a boom­ing sec­tor – crossover sales could ac­count for 34% of the Euro­pean mar­ket by 2020, ac­cord­ing to some an­a­lysts – but be­cause the taller pack­age takes best ad­van­tage of Nis­san’s EV plat­form.

Aoki said: “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 [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 over­all cabin con­cept re­flects Ja­panese ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign, he said, be­cause tra­di­tional Ja­panese houses are tiny and some rooms have to be mul­ti­pur­pose in their use.

Aoki was also keen to point out the un­usual in­te­rior trim in the IMX, which is an al­ter­nat­ing lam­i­nate of wood and translu­cent plas­tic that can be il­lu­mi­nated from be­hind – a hint, per­haps, that this clever fin­ish is heading for pro­duc­tion.

Aoki told Au­to­car that the ex­te­rior of the IMX is a clear in­di­ca­tion of Nis­san’s nextgen­er­a­tion de­sign lan­guage and the in­ten­tion is to be closer to the com­pany’s Ja­panese roots.

He said the IMX does “not have a mas­cu­line look or a heavy ap­pear­ance” of the type that is now com­mon for main­stream com­bus­tion-en­gine ve­hi­cles. “It has a light feel and sheer sur­faces,” he said. “The ex­te­rior is very Ja­panese in its de­tails – ex­pres­sive but with pu­rity and an ex­pen­sive feel­ing.”

Aoki, who has been in charge of Nis­san’s Padding­ton stu­dio for only a few months, joined Nis­san in 1989 and over­saw the de­sign of three In­finiti mod­els as well as the orig­i­nal 350Z sports car. The first car he was en­tirely re­spon­si­ble for was the highly re­garded Primera Mk1.

Pro­duc­tion IMX will ap­pear in “a few years”

Nis­san’s Lon­don stu­dio was in­stru­men­tal in the Qashqai’s ar­rival

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