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Nissan's Jose Munoz introduces the Xmotion concept CUV at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. (Kami Buchholz photo)

2018 NAIAS: Nissan Xmotion blends interior artistry and technology

The influence of Japan’s landscape and traditional wood crafting techniques are dovetailed in Nissan’s Xmotion (pronounced cross-motion) concept CUV, a design exploration that envelopes various connected car and autonomous vehicle technologies.

“This dynamic crossover with advanced autonomous drive capabilities represents the start of a new era for Nissan. In fact, it provides the blueprint for what you can expect from our forthcoming C-SUV line-up and from future Nissan Intelligent Mobility-enabled products,” announced Jose Munoz, Chief Performance Officer of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd, and Chairman of the Management Committee for Nissan North America, at Xmotion’s world debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show.

The concept's driving experience begins with the driver touching a fingerprint authentication area on top of the console. A virtual personal assistant, configured as a Japanese koi fish, appears on the main screen. After linking with the driver’s smartphone, the navigation system recognizes the chosen destination. When in autonomous drive mode, the whimsical personal assistant can pick up points of interest along the route and essentially serve as a storyteller to occupants.

Xmotion’s cabin features side-by-side individual seats in the front and second row and a +two seat in the third row. The 109.6-in (2785 mm)-wheelbase CUV has an overall length of 180.7 in (4590 mm) , an overall height of 66.9 in (1700 mm), and a 76.4in (1940 mm) overall width.

In-cabin digital screens include left- and right-end displays spanning the width of the instrument panel, and a ceiling ‘digital room mirror’. The concept’s infotainment system can be controlled by hand gestures, eye movements, or voice commands.

Nature inspired the interior’s natural feel. Crafting of the center console and the instrument panel was done with wood veneers that were sliced from a Japanese cedar tree. The center console uses an architectural wood joinery technique, called kanawa tsugi, to provide strength and durability without nails or glue. A modern interpretation of kigumi, another Japanese wood joinery technique, was used for the instrument panel.

The vehicle’s exterior styling cues include a wider, deeper evolution of Nissan’s signature V-motion grille that debuted on the third-generation Murano. There's also a reworking of Nissan’s signature boomerang headlamps that integrate high beam, low beam, turn signals, and positioning lamps in a single unit. Xmotion’s wheel design essentially blends the wheel and the tire to create a rugged, robust impression via a unique profile.

Instead of traditional side mirrors, Xmotion uses a camera monitoring system to sense and monitor the vehicles around it; the exterior view is shown on the instrument panel’s left- and right-end screens.

“This is a concept vehicle, so we cannot comment on any specific examples that were done with engineering and manufacturing requirements in mind," said Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President of Global Design, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., during an Automotive Engineering interview prior to the show.

"However, we aim for some of the functions, innovations, and design cues shown on this concept to be available on our production vehicles about five years from now.”

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