As the electric vehicle market has matured in recent years, the biggest beneficiary and most popular player—in terms of sales—has been Nissan. Three iterations of the Japanese manufacturer’s Leaf EV have resulted in sales of more than 400,000 units and billions of battery-powered kilometers covered by the cars all over the world. However, Nissan is slightly reluctant to go full EV across the whole range, instead hedging its bets with some hybrid models as alternatives to the traditional ICE setup—under its Intelligent Mobility tag.
With crossovers and SUVs the go-to vehicle to have in Europe and other markets, Nissan used the 2019 Geneva Motor Show platform to demonstrate where it is heading from a design and also a powertrain point of view. The subject of all the interest was the IMQ, a four-door concept that features the next generation of Nissan’s e-Power drive system that is already available in the likes of the Note and Serena in Japan. In the IMQ, the system delivers a total output of 250 kW and 700 N∙m () thanks largely to a new multi-motor all-wheel-drive system, but also a 1.5-L turbocharged gasoline unit.
“The biggest challenge we have at the moment is rolling out our Intelligent Mobility strategy and the electrification of our vehicle range,” said Christophe de Beaumont, corporate sales and fleet general manager at Nissan Europe. “It is true that every market is changing a lot in terms of powertrains, usage, and taxation—and electrification is different in its maturity in all the different markets so we need to adapt.
“The plan is to go to electrification for the whole of the Nissan lineup in Europe, and the IMQ concept presents the direction the company will take,” he added. With Qashqai another successful model alongside Leaf, and the one that helped kick off the crossover segment, Nissan believes the knowledge it has in both areas will be invaluable to the next generation of vehicles.
IMQ is as much a technology showcase as a future design statement. Open the doors that are hinged at their outer edges and the interior is a light and airy environment with four individual seats sculpted within a minimalistic cabin. Nissan has retained the company’s “gliding wing” instrument panel, complemented by a one-piece center console that stretches from the front to the rear seats. The seat features a 3D technical fabric and has been laser cut in a design inspired by kumiko woodwork.
Up front there is a 840-mm screen in the instrument panel, from which information such as e-power status and other vehicle data are displayed. A secondary screen has been integrated above the center console that controls other vehicle functions such as navigation and infotainment.
Invisible-to-Visible (I2V) technology, a 3D interface where “the real world converges with the virtual world,” according to Nissan, is another technical innovation on IMQ. Developed by the Japanese OEM, it helps vehicle occupants see what may otherwise be invisible thanks to Nissan's omni-sensing technology, which connects the IMQ to real-world sensing information inside and outside the vehicle's cabin. The technology can help drivers see around corners, visualize precise information about traffic jams including causes, and determine alternative routes for a stress-free journey.
There is a lot of focus on the driver in the IMQ, but that doesn’t prevent Nissan’s commitment to autonomous vehicles being included. “We are working by ourselves and within the alliance on autonomous vehicles,” explained de Beaumont. “We have Level 1 autonomy on Qashqai and we move to Level 2 on IMQ.” The concept features an advanced prototype ProPILOT driver assistance system, operating in urban and suburban environments.