Written by a Guest Blogger – James Burrow
Sustainability enthusiasts and techies alike will enjoy Nissan’s newest concept SUV, rolling out at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. The 2013 Nissan Terra SUV concept reshapes traditionally concrete features to provide an all-new driving experience. Utilizing successful computing technology, the Terra replaces a conventional dashboard with a removable tablet. Hydrogen fuel-cell technology powers three electric motors to provide a fully sustainable journey. Although it’s purely a concept, Nissan’s investment in new technology thinking demonstrates a commitment to innovation.
Nissan’s newest concept has positioned itself ahead of the curve in the electronic vehicle (EV) market, housing a hydrogen fuel stack to power three electric motors. Although Nissan has been developing fuel cells since 1996, the latest series represents perhaps the most significant step forward yet — it’s made for one-sixth the cost of its 2005 predecessor, according to Nissan.
It’s easy to spot the product of consumer and environmental pressure for alternative-energy vehicles. Hybrid sales rose 11.4 percent in January 2012, and 55.4 percent in February, according to Autoweek. Toyota’s hybrid Prius led the way as the world’s third-best selling car in the first quarter of 2012. The 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf, which will soon be available at Phoenix Nissan dealerships, is currently the Japanese automaker’s most popular electric vehicle, but big things could be on the horizon.
In order to for hydrogen-powered vehicles to catch the Prius and other popular hybrids, the chemical’s value will have to drop significantly. But some experts believe we could see a spike in hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles in the not-so-distant future.
“I’ll cite the CARB estimate of 500,000 zero-emission cars by 2025, with maybe a third being fuel-cell vehicles,” energy expert Peter Hoffmann told The New York Times.
Expect Nissan to be on the front lines of fuel-cell technology. The Japanese automaker’s investment in EV technology, along with French-based Renault, already exceeded $5.6 billion as of September 2011.
Nissan’s tablet dashboard is perhaps Terra’s most eye-catching new feature. Angled appropriately just beyond the steering wheel, this “intelligent key” has all the functions of a regular dashboard and then some. Along with general speed and rpm performance indicators, drivers can toggle to navigation, entertainment and communication functions with the touch-screen tablet.
Additionally, the removable device must be locked into place in order for the vehicle to start, providing an unprecedented level of security.
Nissan’s technological creativity stokes the imagination with ideas for further automobile-technology integration and validates tablet computing as more than just a shiny fad.
True to concept-car culture, the Terra’s forward-thinking design elicits visions of chrome tunnels and cool cities. The sleek, slim body is the first of many unique features. Thick pillars and a metal frame stabilize this SUV, while an aerodynamically flat-body pan contributes to the energy-efficient experience.
Inside, a more centered driver’s seat uproots traditional seating layouts. Instead of two parallel rows, the Terra’s seating staggers passengers in a hexagonal motif, meaning everyone has a clear view of the road ahead. Blond wood trim contrasts colored acrylic for a warm interior.
It won’t turn any heads, but a completely flat cabin promotes convenience while transporting bikes, furniture, groceries or anything else.
Every detail combines to create an image of what Nissan calls “modern toughness“. The technology may be mind blowing, but this concept appears ready to handle the rigors of everyday life in style.