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  • Nissan transforms traditional sedan design with IMs concept
  • 23 January 2019
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    Nissan transforms traditional sedan design with IMs concept

    ‘Elevated sports sedan’ features revolutionary new proportions, sporty exterior and lounge-like cabin
The Nissan IMs concept introduces a new segment – the "elevated sports sedan." It transforms the traditional sedan into something fresh and new, with provocative proportions and a sleek new look that emphasizes its sporty electric vehicle performance. The IMs is the latest in a series of advanced Nissan electric vehicle concepts that includes the recent Nissan IDs and IMx models.

Key to the groundbreaking proportions of the IMs is a new electric vehicle platform with dual front and rear electric motors and a flat, high-capacity battery pack located underneath the passenger compartment.

The car's overall silhouette features a slipstream cabin arch over a B-pillar-less interior space, enhancing its technical modernity and premium high-quality appearance. Sporty 22-inch wheels and tires give the car a powerful stance and a raised cabin for easy ingress and egress, as well as a high seating position for the occupants. Thanks in part to an extended wheelbase, interior space is maximized, allowing the designers to create an open, airy cabin that can play the dual role of a commanding cockpit or a lounge-like room.

"There are two distinct breakthroughs in the design of the Nissan IMs," said Satoru Tai, executive design director for Nissan. "First, the exterior's fresh proportions, simple shape and dynamic movement are very clean, yet powerful and emotional. Second, the landscape projection theme of the interior is sophisticated, spacious, inviting, interactive and seamless, with a unique passenger seating layout. The IMs exterior signals that the driver and passengers are about to experience something entirely new once inside."

Sleek, sexy, seamless exterior design

The IMs' exterior design is composed of a powerful linear body block that encases a spacious cabin. In the plan view, the dynamic movements of the sheer surfaces create a simple yet dramatic design statement.

The emphasis on interior space is apparent from the exterior design. The car's body and greenhouse are visually separated, prioritizing the size and shape of the cabin, while maintaining the sleek, seductive look of a performance vehicle.

"The impression of the IMs' overall proportions is clearly different from current sport-back sedan designs," said Giovanny Arroba, program design director at Nissan. "With these new proportions, there are zero trade-offs in terms of packaging, including front and rear headroom and legroom, cargo space and visibility."

Contributing to the open-air cabin's appearance are a unique glass roof, thin pillars, super-flush side glass and handle-less doors. When seen from the side, the doors look simple and clean. The dynamic sheer surfaces and edges in the door and hood sections suggest speed and advanced aerodynamics.

The B-pillar-less design allows the rear doors to open rearward, creating an unobstructed view of, and access to, the cabin. With no traditional center console, the interior feels even more spacious at first glance, as well as when inside.

"The deep door sections and three-dimension-hood execution is part of the IMs' 'formal modernity' expression," Arroba added. "The sharp, edgy treatment almost feels like a well-tailored, well-pressed dress shirt, something you'd feel special about."

The IMs' low drag coefficient is the result of the car's smooth front end, flush lighting, invisible door handles and wing cameras in place of side view mirrors, which fold into the body when the vehicle is in autonomous driving mode. The front fenders, lower door section, rear fenders, an integrated rear spoiler and C-pillars have also been designed to enhance aerodynamic performance.

The lighting system has dual functionality for manual and autonomous driving modes. The deep, V-motion design signature is apparent in the placement and shape of the headlamps, which are offset from the front body surface, also aiding air flow.

The headlamps are integrated into a horizontal light blade that runs across the hood. When the car is in operation, pulses of light travel from the light blade to the interior signature lights and then to the rear holographic lamps, before meeting at the center of the rear combination lamp and starting up again in the front. The lights glow light blue when the vehicle is in autonomous mode. The rear combination lamps also feature a subtle etched pattern, providing a "floating" appearance with directional motion.

The IMs' roof treatment is highlighted by gold accents that suggest the ring of moonlight during an eclipse. A geometric graphic pattern, inspired by the traditional Japanese Asanoha pattern, is printed in gold over the smoked glass surface. The pattern is used throughout the vehicle, including on the wheels and inside the cabin.

The exterior of the IMs is finished with a special "liquid metal" paint that is meant to suggest an imaginary mineral on the moon. The qualities of this color, inspired by kimonos, enhance the car's unique and beautiful sculptural form in a subtle way, with shifts in gradation inspired by the image of superheated metal, applied to the areas of the body which are subject to higher air pressures.

The confident, modern interior design of the IMs projects a sporty, premium image. Supporting the vision of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, the interior functions flawlessly in either manual or autonomous driving mode, enabling seamless switching between the two modes at the driver's whim.

At Nissan, every car is designed with the driver in mind. Although it has full autonomous capability, the IMs is no different in this regard. Highlighting the interior is an advanced driver-centric cockpit. In manual driving mode, the driver has full control of the vehicle from the comfort of the zero-gravity seat.

The powerful electric drivetrain provides excellent acceleration, while the vehicle's air suspension system with adaptive ride sensors provides a smooth ride quality and keeps the car stable through corners. The vehicle's all-wheel-drive system also ensures maximum traction and grip.

The kumiko structure on the instrument panel, created by 3D printing technology, takes up little space and is extremely lightweight, helping keep the car's curb weight to a minimum. The driver display features a floating clear screen with dual layers.

"With the elevated seating position and the car's excellent performance, the driver can take full advantage of multilayered technology, from the air suspension to the intuitive controls, to the information displays," said Arroba. "But just as easily, the IMs can transform from an engaging driver's car to a fully autonomous vehicle, allowing the driver to engage in conversation with passengers, catch up on work or just enjoy the numerous entertainment options."

Dominating the rear space is the innovative "Premier Seat," an oversized center seat that emerges from the three-across rear seat when the slim outboard positions are folded. The delta-shaped seating pattern is also ideal from the standpoint of executive travel, enabling the occupant to maximize time efficiency while moving, for example, from the office to a private jet.

The interior color treatment uses darker materials in contrast to the lighter, simpler exterior. The instrument panel and door panels are covered by woven black material with fabric gold mesh accents. In fact, gold details are found throughout the interior, providing elements of light in the same fashion as Japanese paper door screens provide light for traditional Japanese tatami rooms. Even the flooring is unique to automotive design, combining custom carpeting with a "Shock Diamond" pattern to give the cabin a feeling of "formal modernity."

"We wanted to create an environment that's more like stepping into a luxury movie theater than an ordinary passenger sedan," Arroba explained. "The interior graphics are the result of Nissan designers' respect for the company's Japanese heritage, and while the overall design here may not follow convention, we wanted it to feel techy, with the promise that its occupants are about to experience something new."

Breaking new ground through purity and simplicity

In an era where electric cars with autonomous driving capabilities dominate global auto shows, the Nissan IMs stands out with its simple, unadorned design language and advanced technology, provided by Nissan Intelligent Mobility.

"Inside and out, the focus is on enhancing user efficiency through an elevated experience in both manual and autonomous driving modes," Tai said. "Even the most out-of-the-world aspirations must be rooted in reality in order to succeed. The Nissan IMs meets every one of those criteria."

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