Autonomy and technology will drive interior design for the future.
Automotive interior designers at Nissan are going to be busy over the next few years as the automaker reimagines how vehicles will be constructed in the future. In a report from Auto Express, Nissan is said to be increasing its future interior design budget significantly for two reasons: its anticipated growth in electric vehicles and the impending arrival of autonomous cars, which may or may not need physical controls.
Nissan brand European design centre boss Mamoru Aoki said the company’s interiors will change dramatically—and certain elements may arrive as soon as a production model of the Nissan IMx electric compact SUV arrives in 2020. When Nissan debuted the IMx concept, it featured a retractable steering wheel, something which could make it to a production version of the SUV. “From 2020 it will be the real autonomous and electric vehicle era, so at that time I think we will not continue the current design direction,” he said. “Before, EV competition was small, but now it is much greater, so appearance is more important. Tesla is here already, so we have to compete.”
As a consequence of passengers not needing to focus on driving duties in future autonomous vehicles, they’re “more likely to notice the quality and detail of their car’s interior,” said Auto Express. Additionally, electric vehicles don’t need to follow the accepted engine-in-front template used by conventionally powered mass-market vehicles, as electric motors can be fitted inside wheels and battery packs can be built into a vehicle’s floor. “The floor can be flat, and the dashboard can be very minimal as the air-conditioning unit can go in the space where the engine compartment would normally be,” Aoki explained.