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Nissan IMs Concept is a self-driven Detroit moonshot

por Dong Luffman (2019-09-07)

id="article-body" class="row" section="article-body"> On some level, even humble economy cars are industrial works of art. Perhaps because of that fact, it's not surprising that when we think of new car designs -- especially concept cars -- we envision their appearance as being the result of someone who set pen to paper, hand to clay or pixel to screen. And while all of those processes still happen, nearly all of today's car designs have their genesis in a very different process: customer research. Take this Nissan IMs Concept that just debuted at Monday's 2019 Detroit Auto Show. Its sexy fastback form, its 22-inch wheels and its clever lighting all look sufficiently discount organic bedding that it seems as if it were born of a single mind. 

The truth is, the Nissan IMs electric show car is the result of exhaustive research. The Japanese automaker surveyed thousands of people to see the way automobiles are being used, how their habits are changing and where technology will enable car design to go in the future. The IMs Concept isn't just an artistic vision, in other words. It's rolling thesis. In this case, that thesis is a Level Four autonomous sedan with a raised ride height and seating position, the latter realized in a novel reconfigurable cabin that's loaded with futuristic tech.

So, how does one get from reams of questionnaires and discussions about marketplace "white space" to a sleek, pillarless four-door sedan with 483 horsepower, 590 pound-feet of torque and a 115-kWh battery good for 380 miles of range? Back in late September, I got the chance to find out: Nissan gave me a deep dive into the genesis of this concept car, including the chance to sit in on a number of presentations and have an early look at a full-scale mockup in Nissan's design studio in Atsugi, Japan.