The Xmotion ('cross motion') concept continues the theme of the IMx (Tokyo 2017) in paying tribute to the brand's Japanese identity and culture. There's the hand-crafted wood of the IP and central console, for a start, slatted and underlit, and similar graphics for the 3D-printed seat structures. It pushes the exterior form language a stage further, however, to give the impression of something a bit more futuristic and differentiated than a Leaf SUV: it's more rugged, more jagged, with a bulkier and blockier profile. More of an American truck feel, maybe.
"We're interested in exploring these very sharp volumes contrasting with softer surfaces in between," says the Xmotion's lead exterior designer Lars Taubert, who is based in Nissan's San Diego studio. (Taubert is known to Car Design News, of course, as the designer of the 2011 Citroen Tubik concept; he has now been with Nissan for around five years). He says that some of these ideas seen on the Xmotion's exterior will influence Nissan's upcoming production SUVs, though more in terms of approach than this being a preview of a new model as such, pointing to the treatment of the bodysides and the surfacing. "It's part of our general philosophy of [increasing] simplicity, not over-styling," he says.
While the exterior was developed in California, where Nissan has two studios, the interior was created and built in Japan; this was then shipped to the US for the show car's final assembly, Taubert says. This is reflected in the high-tech and more explicitly Japanese feel of the six-seat interior, which takes a 4+2 format with floating shells over a red, flat floor.
HMI includes eye movement, voice and gesture controls, and there are seven screen sections running full-width across the cockpit - three main displays and two more at either end of the IP, a 'digital room mirror' in the roof, and another screen in the centre console. The gesture-sensitive spinning silver circle (like a top) embedded in the wood represents a further remote control for the rear-seat passengers.
Nissan's senior VP of design Alfonso Albaisa explains further: "In the Xmotion concept, we explored the more rugged an powerful side of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. Bold and powerful forms and proportions are, upon closer inspection, contrasted with aspects of traditional Japanese craftsmanship expressed in a contemporary way," he says. "The exterior's combination of western and eastern concept continues inside the Xmotion, where advanced connectivity and autonomous technologies mix with modern Japanese digital art and cultural craftsmanship. At a glance, Xmotion may appear to have a minimal design language, but a closer look reveals layers of detail that make this concept exceptional."