Nissan Unveils XMotion Concept SUV

Elements of Japanese design and nature are prominent in the SUV’s appearance, including an image of Mt. Fuji that is revealed when the third-row door is opened.

January 15, 2018

3 Min Read
Nissan Xmotion concept
Nissan Xmotion concept.

DETROIT – Nissan uses its 2018 North American International Auto Show stage to reveal a compact 3-row SUV concept it says showcases the brand’s design direction for 2020 and beyond.

Dubbed the XMotion, the concept falls between Nissan’s production Rogue and Rogue Sport CUVs in overall length, but has a ruggedness that suggests this may preclude not a new CUV but an SUV.

“The XMotion concept features strong hints of a traditional SUV – the high stance, high-utility proportions and bulked up fenders, stuffed with all-terrain-ready wheels and tires,” Nissan says in a statement given to media ahead of the auto show.

Like many Nissan concepts, this one uses elements of Japanese culture or nature as an influence, despite an SUV being a largely American creation.

Designers studied at Japanese craft museums and with woodworkers and carpenters responsible for the construction of shrines and temples in the country, the automaker says.

The horizontal bars of the updated Nissan-brand V-motion grille recall Japanese architecture, while the taillight design is inspired by Japanese woodwork and puzzles.

The XMotion concept’s interior is influenced by Japanese landscapes, with the floor representing a river and the center console a bridge connecting front and rear passenger spaces.

Kanawa tsugi, a traditional Japanese wood-joinery technique using no nails or glue, inspired the look of the center console, the “core of the (concept’s) interior design,” Nissan says.

Another Japanese wood-joining technique, kigumi, influenced the creation of the instrument panel.

The cedar-wood veneers used on the console and IP came from one tree in Japan’s Yamagata prefecture.

An image of Mt. Fuji appears when the third-row door is opened, Nissan says, adding the colors of the Japanese flag – red and white – are used inside the car, as is black to symbolize modern technology.

Befitting a concept, the XMotion is chock full of advanced technology, including seven digital screens, cameras in lieu of side-door mirrors and gesture- and eye-controlled displays.

Fingerprint authentication is used to start the car, after which a virtual personal assistant in the shape of a koi fish appears. Nissan says in autonomous-drive mode, the assistant will relay information about points of interest along the route.

To accommodate the third row of seats, the XMotion has a retractable rooftop box.

Other features of the exterior include wheels pushed to corners and 21-in. aluminum-alloy wheels and tires fused together, a process Nissan co-developed with Michelin. The tire tread is laminated over the wheels, making “the rubber-oriented rims look larger than their actual size.”

While Nissan calls the XMotion a SUV, it is unclear from press materials whether it indeed rides on a body-on-frame platform or if it is car-based.

Michael Bunce, senior vice president-product planning for Nissan North America, recently told WardsAuto Nissan was “very, very closely” looking at re-entering the off-road utility segment, based on research showing Millennial males want to step away from technology and connect with nature.

Nissan’s light-truck sales in the U.S. rose 12.7% last year to 775,781, an all-time record for the brand, WardsAuto data shows. For the second straight year, the Rogue CUV was Nissan’s No.1-selling model, delivering 403,465 units in 2017, a 22.3% increase from 2016.

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