Nissan IMx concept is an electric SUV designed for an autonomous future

Electric SUVs are now more popular than a small-batch IPA in Brooklyn. It started with luxury automakers like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Jaguar conjuring up Tesla Model X competitors. The trend is now spreading to more mainstream brands. The 2017 Tokyo Motor Show has already played host to the Mitsubishi e-Evolution concept, and now Nissan has an electric SUV concept of its own.

The Nissan IMx concept is an autonomous electric crossover from the company that brought you the Leaf. While the Leaf focuses on affordability and accessibility, the IMx piles on the tech to show what a more elaborate future electric car from Nissan could look like.

The exterior features some familiar Nissan styling cues, like the “V-Motion” grille and “floating” roof supported by blacked-out panels. But Nissan says the design is meant to erode the differentiation between the exterior and interior, which the automaker believes will become less important in the age of self-driving cars. A panoramic OLED display acts as a virtual window, showing the outside environment in the background. Wood trim is meant to reference shōji, traditional Japanese paper screens.

The IMx is powered by two electric motors, one for each axle. That gives the vehicle all-wheel drive and a combined output of 430 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Nissan claims the IMx can travel 600 kilometers (373 miles) on a single charge, which should eliminate any trace of range anxiety. The IMx is also capable of discharging electricity back into the grid, allowing it to help power buildings when not in use.

Like many concept cars these days, the IMx is also autonomous. The driver can toggle between manual and autonomous modes; the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard when the latter mode is selected. Nissan hopes to eventually sell fully autonomous production cars, but for now it only offers limited driver assist through its ProPilot system.

The IMx isn’t slated for production, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Nissan offer an electric SUV at some point. Offering multiple all-electric models will be a good way to meet tightening emissions standards, and given the popularity of SUVs, that category is as good a place to start as any.

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