Nissan's new SUV concept is part Nissan Juke, part Leaf, and part Pivo. It's called the Terra, a hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered compact utility vehicle that promises the benefits of a small SUV with zero emissions.
Nissan previewed the Terra before its Paris Motor Show reveal later this month, saying that it represents the next generation of Nissan fuel cell vehicles. The car, which is about 1-2 inches larger than the current Nissan Juke in every exterior dimension, is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell stack, which generates electricity for a driveline essentially ripped straight from the battery-electric Nissan Leaf.. But to give the Terra off-road (or all-weather) chops, Nissan installed an in-wheel motor in each of the rear wheels, making the Terraan all-wheel drive vehicle. As with all in-wheel motor setups, giving the Terra torque vectoring – like what’s offered in the all-wheel drive Juke -- is as simple as sending a little more electricityto an outside wheel motor in a corner.
Nissan also says that the in-wheel motors allow the Terra to have powered rear wheels with a completely flat floor. That flat floor should come in handy, as Nissan invisioned the Terra as something of an urban/suburban runabout, a car that can handle all-weather situations but isn't intended for true off-roading. Still, the flat floor and hatchback should make it easy to carry things like bikes or kayaks.
On the inside, the Terra is typical concept car flight of fancy, boasting both an unusual seating configuration and futuristic driver controls. The front seats are mounted front and center, while the rear seats face forward but are placed more outboard, allowing the passengers to have a unique – and largely unobstructed -- forward view. Instead of using keys or remotes, the Terra is controlled by an iPad-like tablet, which turns the car on when once driver docks it behind the steering wheel.
Conceptual touches aside, the Terra does represent some realistic strides towards commercializing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Nissan claims that its new hydrogen fuel cell setup costs some 83 percent less than before, mostly because engineers quartered the amount of precious metals used in the system. The in-wheel motors are updated versions of the ones already used on the Pivo concepts (there have been three so far).
The Terra will take the stage at the Paris Motor Show later this month.