Updated IMx concept showcases Nissan electric, tech focus
As an early adopter of—and a leader in—electric vehicle technology, not to mention a company that is looking to dominate the alternative and future transportation market, Nissan’s stand at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show was awash with emissions-free vehicles.
Arguably the most exiting exhibit was the IMx Kuro concept, an electric crossover that demonstrated the Japanese company’s latest work on intelligent mobility and its approaches to changing how cars are powered, driven, and integrated into their environments. Originally previewed in Tokyo in late 2017, the IMx had been upgraded for the European show—the biggest advance being the integration of Nissan’s Brain-to-Vehicle (B2V) technology. This system interprets signals from the driver’s brain to assist with driving and to help the vehicle’s autonomous and manual systems learn from the driver.
One of the main benefits offered by B2V technology in the IMx is the ability to speed up reaction times of drivers. Nissan believes this trend will mean that cars will be continuously adapting to their environment, making driving more enjoyable and safer.
To achieve the breakthrough, Nissan has conducted research into using brain decoding technology to predict actions and detect discomfort. By catching signs that the driver’s brain is about to initiate a movement—such as turning the steering wheel or pushing the accelerator pedal—driver-assist technologies can begin the action more quickly. This preventative measure can improve reaction times and enhance manual driving. Then, by detecting and evaluating driver discomfort, artificial intelligence can change the driving configuration or driving style when in autonomous mode.
Nissan believes that its B2V technology is a world’s first. For the system to work, drivers must wear a device that measures brain-wave activity, which is then analyzed by autonomous systems. By anticipating intended movement, the systems can take actions—such as turning the steering wheel or slowing the car—0.2 to 0.5 s faster than the driver, while remaining largely imperceptible.
Controlling all of the advanced technologies is the latest version of Nissan’s ProPILOT, which offers fully autonomous operation. When ProPILOT drive mode is selected, the steering wheel is hidden away inside the dashboard and the seats recline, giving the driver and passengers more space around them. Switch to manual mode, and the vehicle returns the steering wheel and seats to their original position, seamlessly transferring control back to the driver.
The Nissan IMx Kuro is powered by two high-output electric motors, one at the front and the other at the rear, enabling all-wheel-drive capability. The two motors combine to produce 320 kW of power and 700 N·m (516 lb·ft) of torque (more than the Nissan GT-R supercar), sourced from a high-capacity battery that’s been redesigned and re-engineered for increased energy density. This new battery offers a driving range of more than 600 km (375 mi) on a single charge.
The intelligence continues when the occupant has left the vehicle, as the IMx Kuro can park itself in a spot where the vehicle can connect to the local power grid and act as a “virtual” power plant by returning electricity to the grid, an extension of its vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-building features. Once the owner returns, the IMx Kuro can pick them up at the terminal and drive home. The whole process is carried out efficiently, thanks in part to the increased battery capacity and connected-car technologies, including Seamless Autonomous Mobility.
“The IMx Kuro zero-emission crossover concept vehicle embodies the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility,” said Jose Munoz, Nissan’s Chief Performance Officer. It is “Nissan’s commitment to changing the way people and cars communicate, as well as how cars interact with society in the near future and beyond.”
The 2018 Geneva show was used as a springboard by Nissan to showcase a number of updates around the Nissan Intelligent Mobility initiative—the brand’s vision to transform the way we people drive and live their lives. Under its new Nissan M.O.V.E. to 2022 midterm plan, it will offer electrified powertrains in the next generation of crossovers, giving consumers more choice over model and powertrain.
Nissan announced news about the market performance of the Leaf – the car at the heart of the Intelligent Mobility program. The world’s most popular electric vehicle has sold more than 300,000 units since 2010, has been driven more than four billion kilometers by customers, and in Europe, a Leaf is sold every 12 minutes.
Technology that debuted on the new Leaf now features elsewhere in the Nissan range, including the ProPILOT advanced driver-assistance technology. ProPILOT is seen as a building block towards autonomous driving and is, according to the company, “designed to increase driver excitement, control and confidence for Nissan owners.”
A partnership with energy supplier E.ON was also news in Geneva, for which the two companies will explore opportunities for pilot activities and commercial offers related to vehicle-to-grid services, renewable energy generation, and storage solutions. The collaboration is also advancing Nissan’s ambition to offer free power for its electric vehicle drivers.