Nissan’s new concept, the Ariya, was unveiled at Tokyo Motor Show this week, marking the company’s most adventurous foray into electric vehicles since the Leaf
Nissan describes the Ariya as “a crossover EV with twin electric motors, powerful acceleration, award-winning driver assistance technology and a look that signals a complete reinvention of the brand’s design”. Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design, has branded the aesthetic “Timeless Japanese Futurism”.
This translates into clean, natural lines that are meant to mirror the clean energy that powers the car and details such as the rear light blade and similar nose, featuring an illuminated grille and super-thin LED headlights, to the one first seen on the IMx concept. Albaisa refers to this front section as the car’s “shield” and, beyond the aesthetics, it houses radar sensors that will help the car map out the road ahead.
The concept’s paint job, in a colour named Suisei Blue, has been balanced to look a matte indigo at a distance, but embedded flakes of glass in the paint produce light refractions close up that (presumably) glimmer as the car glides silently past. Against this backdrop, the copper inlay on the concept’s five-blade wheels and along the line of the low roof stands out in a nod to traditional Japanese coppersmiths.
Inside, a minimalist dashboard features very few buttons or switches, instead incorporating glowing haptic touch controls, which disappear when the car is switched off. Nissan reports that the only physical controls are the start button, a knob to operate the display monitor and the climate controls.
The concept also makes use of ProPilot 2.0, Nissan’s driver-assistance system, which prompts the driver as to when they should pass other vehicles on the motorway or when the appropriate moment arrives to change lanes and branch off, according to a pre-designated route. In other words, the car senses its surroundings and guides the driver between lanes and on and off multi-lane roads, meaning the Ariya will make use of a type of hybrid self-driving/manual control system.
Currently, the Nissan Leaf is the brand’s only electric vehicle; it’s one of the world’s bestselling electric cars. With the announcement of the Ariya, Nissan has expanded beyond the hatchback into the market for luxury SUVs – and if it proves nearly as popular as the Leaf, its impact will be far more than conceptual.
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