Ahead of the official opening of the 44th annual Tokyo Motor Show, Japanese automaker Nissan has officially unveiled its vision for the future of motoring — and it’s both all-electric and fully-autonomous.
Presenting a short if energetic press conference, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told the assembled audience that we have reached “a new era” in the world, where “breakthrough technologies are changing the way we live.”
“The pace of innovation has never been faster,” he continued. “For Nissan, this is all opportunity.”
Highlighting Nissan’s success with the Nissan LEAF electric car and the crossover segment, Ghosn’s first introduction of the conference was reserved for the Nissan Gripz Concept, a series hybrid crossover sports concept car with the same 80 kilowatt electric motor found in the Nissan LEAF. But while a series gasoline hybrid — where a gasoline engine drives a generator which in turn produces electricity to drive an electric motor connected to the wheels — was the first to be introduced, the star of the show was Nissan’s all-electric, fully-autonomous IDS Concept car.
Wearing a similar nose to the Nissan SWAY Concept car we saw in Geneva, the Nissan IDS Concept car is powered by a next-generation 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, features fully-automatic coach doors, wireless inductive charging, and a rear end that reminds us of a cross between the rear of the now-discontinued Opel Ampera and Mercedes-Benz’s own autonomous F 015 concept car from earlier this year.
Inside, there’s seating for four, and a heavy emphasis on today’s fully-connected lifestyle. While the car can be driven in fully-autonomous mode, there’s also a fully-retracting steering wheel, allowing the car to be driven in manual mode as and when desired.
While the Nissan IDS Concept is unlikely to make it into production, it does preview Nissan’s vision for the future, where all-electric, zero-emission vehicles travel our streets, learning and responding from the driver as well as communicating with other cars on the road. In addition, Ghosn said, the car can even learn to spot the signs of when its driver gets tired, making a suggestion when and where to stop for a break.
That learning process, Ghosn suggested, means that the IDS Concept could even suggest a suitable restaurant for you to have a meal at, based on your previous dining destinations and preferences.
As with any good concept car, the Nissan IDS Concept does add a fair bit of futuristic ‘best guesses’ as to what we’ll all be doing with our cars in the mid to long-term future. But while its utopian design and clinical interior may betray its true purpose, the autonomous driving technology it previews is, says Ghosn, just around the corner.
Indeed, the first generation of that technology — called the Intelligent Driving System 1.0 — will enter into new model Nissans from next year in Japan, with the required hardware and software necessary to make single-lane autonomous driving and traffic jam pilot functionality a reality.
Designed to be more than simply an autopilot for its cars, Nissan says the Intelligent Driving System will use its suite of sensors to monitor the road at all times, using that information to make autonomous driving possible but also to take evasive action when required in manual drive mode to protect both those inside and outside the vehicle.
Japan will be the first market to benefit from Nissan’s autonomous vehicle technology, with China, Europe and the U.S. following shortly after.
Looking further into the future, Ghosn promised version 2.0 of its Intelligent Driving System would follow a few years after version 1.0, adding multi-lane autonomy, lane change and merging capabilities.
Highlighting the part that Nissan’s zero emission LEAF and e-NV200 have played in helping develop autonomous vehicles, Ghosn reiterated that electric vehicle technology will remain at the centre of Nissan’s drive towards a future of zero emission, zero traffic fatality vehicles. While he stopped short of detailing specifics of autonomous vehicle functionality for future Nissan electric vehicle models, we’re confident enough to say that the LEAF — and any other electric vehicle from the Nissan — will be top of Nissan’s list when it comes to autonomous tech rollout.
Alongside the IDS Concept and Gripz Concept, Ghosn also highlighted a third concept car making its debut in Japan: the Teatro for Dayz.
Like the IDS, the Teatro for Dayz is a fully-autonomous electric vehicle, but designed with Tokyo’s next-generation of drivers at mind. Featuring fully-customizable displays, dash and infotainment system, the Teatro for Dayz is Nissan’s vision of what a future autonomous vehicle could be like for the ‘Digital natives’: the new generation of car-sharing savvy drivers who have never known a time before the Internet.
What do you think of these three concepts? Would you like to buy an electric car that offers the level of autonomy previewed by the IDS? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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