Nissan looks poised to phase-out the current Nissan Leaf in the foreseeable future and, in the form of the IDS concept, has given us our first indications of what its replacement could look like. This sharply angled concept is somewhat of a departure from the original, curvier Leaf.
Having been a key player in the electric vehicle segment, Nissan is keen to stay at the forefront of emerging EV technologies. As more manufacturers turn their attention towards this growing market, making an impact is becoming more difficult – Nissan hopes that the IDS is just the car to do it.
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New Nissan Leaf styling
The Nissan IDS aims to combine the advantages of electric vehicles with the benefits of autonomous driving. Efforts have been made to ensure that the car can communicate its intentions visually with the occupants as well as other road users and pedestrians.
The exterior is dominated by a large LED strip running the length of the car from the headlights to the taillights which Nissan calls the ‘intention indicator’. It has been designed to act not only as a conventional directional indicator, but to communicate to pedestrians and cyclists that the car is aware of their position by softly glowing red as they approach.
The IDS’s fully carbon fibre bodywork has been designed to be as aerodynamic as possible to maximise the range of the electric drivetrain. Large diameter alloy wheels with very thin tyres reduce rolling resistance and have layered fins which reduce drag.
Some elements of the exterior design will be familiar, such as the trapezoidal Nissan grille, angular brake-lights and aerodynamic profile but the stretched rear quarter-panels and pronounced sills are all departures from Nissan’s current design themes.
New Nissan Leaf interior
The Nissan IDS follows a hatchback form-factor but an extended wheelbase offers space for more versatile, movable seating. The ‘Manual’ and ‘Piloted’ driving modes allow the steering wheel to recede into the dashboard and be replaced by a large infotainment display with many driving functions being voice-activated or gesture controlled.
The outward facing display positioned behind the instrument panel allows messages to be flashed to pedestrians and other road users to more accurately convey the autonomous intentions of the car in ‘Piloted mode’.
It’s unlikely that either of these features will be fitted to the new Leaf, but a toned-down interior theme designed to allow more fluid conversation between the occupants could well make an appearance.
In order to compete in the compact car segment, it’s likely the road-going Nissan Leaf replacement will have five seats rather than the four shown in the IDS concept.
New Nissan Leaf performance
The Nissan IDS has been equipped with a 60kWh battery pack – double the capacity of the recently upgraded Leaf. It’s possible the replacement model will make use of this same power source which, combined with reduced weight and an aerodynamic body, could offer double the current range of the outgoing Leaf.
These efforts are part of Nissan’s zero emissions strategy to build towards electric vehicles that, as its executive vice-president Hideyuki Sakamoto stated, ‘equal or surpass the convenience of petrol-powered cars’.
New Nissan Leaf price and release date
It is possible that a new Nissan Leaf could go on sale in 2017, albeit without the radical autonomous technology shown in the IDS concept. Nissan has said that such vehicles probably won’t appear on the road before 2020.
It’s hard to predict the price of the new Nissan Leaf, especially with rumours that the Japanese manufacturer wants to expand the ‘Leaf’ brand to a range of vehicles over the next decade. We imagine the price of the upcoming model will be broadly similar to the current car although, by the time it’s released, you may not be able to take advantage of the Government’s £5,000 plug-in car grant.
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