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New Nissan concept car hints at next Leaf

Autonomous concept car showcases latest electric tech - and points to next Leaf's styling

Words BySteve Cropley

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A new all-carbonfibre, battery-powered design study, called IDS Concept and featuring Nissan's latest autonomous driving technology, carries clear hints about the styling of the new Nissan Leaf, according to company sources. The car has been revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The IDS Concept, which has a low, aerodynamic shape, low rolling resistance tyres, a comparatively light weight and a high-capacity 60kWh battery, is part of a determined push by Nissan to increase the range and capability of electric cars, which the company believes "will enable us to mass produce and market electric vehicles that equal or surpass the convenience of gasoline-powered cars".

Nissan plans to roll out self-driving technology across "multiple vehicles" by 2020, and the IDS shows how this could work. It is capable of imitating the driver’s own driving while in autonomous mode, reflecting cornering, braking and accelerating styles.

While it is in Manual mode, it monitors the road and aims to assist the driver if evasive action is necessary.

In Piloted mode, the car aims to make the atmosphere in the cabin more relaxed; the steering wheel recedes into the centre of the instrument panel and a flat screen comes out. The seats all turn slightly towards one another, too, to make conversation that bit easier.

Nissan bosses say IDS Concept is built with Nissan's twin objectives of Zero Emissions and Zero Fatalities very much in mind. A silver strip along the body side turns red when pedestrians and cyclists are close, to indicate its awareness of their proximity. There is even an electronic display, facing out from the instrument panel, which can flash messages like "After You" to improve safety and promote good communications.