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Nissan IDS Concept Previews Next-Gen Leaf, Future Autonomous Tech

Uses a 60-kWh battery for greater driving range.

As Nissan aims to be a global leader in electric-vehicle and autonomous driving technologies, the new IDS concept revealed at the Tokyo auto show is meant to show off the company’s progress. IDS stands for “Intelligent Driving System,” the name for Nissan’s autonomous self-driving technology that is apparently still on track to go into production vehicles by 2020.

More imminently, the IDS hatchback’s futuristic look appears to give a preview of the next Nissan Leaf EV that’s expected to arrive within the next year. Nissan’s V-motion grille features prominently up front, and the car’s profile has aggressive, angular lines that take inspiration from current Nissan production models like the Murano and Maxima. Despite the slightly tortured look, Nissan says that the IDS has an extremely low drag coefficient to increase efficiency.

The all-electric drivetrain, which uses a powerful 60-kWh battery (compared to 30 kWh in the current Leaf) is also an indication of what we might see in the next-generation Leaf. Nissan isn’t giving any driving range estimates, but we can assume that the IDS concept far exceeds the 2016 Leaf’s 107-mile range.

The Nissan IDS Concept’s real party piece, though, is the reconfigurable interior that switches its cockpit arrangement depending on the different driving modes. In “Manual Drive” mode, where the driver operates the car normally, all four seats face forward; the steering wheel, though unconventional in shape, sits directly in front of the driver and is flanked by digital instruments and a head-up display. Switching to “Piloted Drive,” where the car operates autonomously, causes the steering wheel to retract into the dashboard and the seats to rotate inward. A large screen also rises the dashboard, creating an environment that Nissan says is like “relaxing in a living room.”

Certain key features are also meant to help the Nissan IDS concept interact with the outside environment. Exterior lights like the so-called “Intention Indicator” change color to signal that the car is aware of nearby pedestrians, and another display can even show messages to passersby. The autonomous driving systems are also said to learn the driver’s habits when in Manual Drive so that the self-driving mode can better imitate the acceleration and cornering behaviors of the driver.

Several of the Nissan IDS concept’s technologies, such as its self-parking system and upgraded battery pack, should roll out onto upcoming Nissan production cars, including the next-generation Leaf, over the next few years. Then, if all goes according to plan, an autonomous driving system like the one featured on this car will be available in production vehicles globally by 2020.

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