Electric Car

Nissan Claims Leaf SUV Will Be The First Truly Mainstream EV

Nissan’s Design Boss confirmed IMx concept will go into production.

For years, the Tesla Model X has been without serious competition, but that’s soon about to change. Nissan is claiming its upcoming electric crossover, currently only known as the Leaf SUV, will be the model that finally pushes electric vehicles mainstream, according to Nissan Design Europe boss Mamoru Aoki. “Of course, we have the new Leaf, but I think the [production version of the] IMx concept will become a breakthrough model,” Aoki told Autocar at Nissan’s design center in London.

Revealed at last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, the IMx concept promised a 380-mile range on a single charge, as well as a dual motor, four-wheel-drive powertrain with 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The next generation of Nissan’s autonomous ProPilot technology will also feature in the IMx. “The IMx is not just a concept car. In a few years, it will appear [in production],” Aoki said. The Design Boss believes the production IMx will be a sales hit not just because of the booming crossover market, but because the taller package makes the best use of Nissan’s EV platform. “The interior is notably bigger than with a conventional vehicle and there’s much more usable space," he said.

He attributed this 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 hood.” He added the concept's cabin reflects Japanese architecture and interior design, since traditional Japanese houses are tiny and some rooms have multiple purposes. Traditionally, the production version of a concept is toned down, but Aoki hinted the Leaf SUV will stay faithful to the IMx concept’s design. The concept’s styling also previews Nissan’s future design language, which will go back to the company’s Japanese roots.

Unlike the “masculine look” and “heavy appearance” that is common for mainstream combustion-engine vehicles, Nissan's electric crossover will have "a light feel and sheer surfaces. The exterior is very Japanese in its details – expressive but with purity and an expensive feeling,” Aoki said.

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