Nissan has unveiled the IMk, a concept car that combines chic design, cutting-edge technologies and powerful EV acceleration in a compact body to create the “ultimate urban commuter.”
The 100% electric car hints at the new direction of Nissan’s design language and how it helps bring to life Nissan Intelligent Mobility – the brand’s vision for changing how vehicles are powered, driven and connected to society.
Immersed in this vision, Nissan designers and engineers looked at a vehicle segment that’s prevalent in their native Japan and becoming more so the world over – the city car. To meet customer demands for nimble driving characteristics and connectivity that fits a wide range of needs and lifestyles, Nissan set out to create a city runner that would stand apart from any other car in the segment.
The result is the IMk concept. More than a strictly functional city car, it’s a chic vehicle that reduces driver stress while offering excitement and confidence on an all-new EV platform.
Equipped with the latest ProPILOT advanced driver assistance technologies and seamless connectivity features, the IMk provides a glimpse of how urban-oriented cars may look and feel in the near future.
“As a small EV for a new era, the Nissan IMk is designed to be at home in sophisticated cityscapes as much as in traditional Japanese towns,” said Satoru Tai, executive design director at Nissan. “The IMk fuses a modern, clean look, driven by its Japanese heritage, with cutting-edge EV technology. Unconstrained by conventional concepts of the kei car segment, its design is interwoven with Japanese culture. It’s a luxury small EV that I hope a lot of customers are going to drive.”
Exterior design: powerful presence derived from Timeless Japanese Futurism
The IMk’s looks and proportions reflect a minimal aesthetic, drawing on Nissan’s new design philosophy, called Timeless Japanese Futurism. Adopting the simplistic nature of traditional Japanese design, the exterior is characterized by flowing lines. Carefully applied Japanese motifs add refinement and intrigue. Dipped in an Akagane paint scheme – reflecting a reddish copper colour – the concept pays homage to artisans who formed copper into functional works of art.
A close look reveals additional elements of “Japanese DNA” throughout the IMk. The V-motion signature “shield” and combination taillights feature a trellised, woodwork-type impression.
“We incorporated ‘Japanese DNA’ into the design of the IMk,” said Tai. “For example, the bumper, wheels, tires, windows, tail lamps, roof and high mount spoiler treatment borrow from the flowing patterns of mizuhiki, a thin twine made of Japanese rice paper. Just as mizuhiki flows naturally by design, on the IMk this flowing pattern blends the front, sides, and rear of the concept together for a completely new presence, outside and inside. The shield, which replaces the grille in gasoline-powered vehicles, represents a new signature element in our redefined design language. It follows function with style, giving the vehicle visual strength and inspiration while also providing protection and advanced technology underneath, including sensors and electronics.”
Interior design: an inviting cabin with high-tech functionality
The Nissan IMk concept’s cabin is a new type of “room” that exudes the nature of a cafe or lounge. The bench-style seat, with a dimpled texture, promotes a relaxing, welcome space that gives the impression of sitting on a floating cloud. The dashboard and sections of the doors are upholstered with light tonal materials, adding to the cozy atmosphere. Akagane-colored accents along the instrument panel, doors and steering wheel add brightness to the interior and a premium feel to the vehicle as a whole.
Interlocking with the lower door section are wood slats that are a nod to the Japanese wood joinery technique of kigumi, which create a sense of inner calm. This feature is highlighted by special hidden lighting. Dark coffee-colored floor carpeting with woven strands of metallic fiber enhance the cozy, relaxing setting.
Other than the start button and shifter, the IMk’s thin dashboard is void of physical controls. Powering up the IMk reveals cabin comfort controls and settings with soft glowing icons within the Akagane trim.
Important driving information, such as vehicle speed and navigation directions, appear in “midair” by way of a bezel-less prism display. Customized information is communicated to the driver via holographic displays. Interior accent lighting mimics the prism display’s colour scheme, depending on displayed content. When using the touch-sensitive surface – for example, when swiping while viewing a map – a touch of whimsy is displayed in the form of a flock of birds flying across it. A careful eye will even notice a faint bird pattern across the prism, hinting at how this display can come to life. This is just one way the IMk provides a level of interactivity and personalisation, adding excitement to the driving experience.
According to Tai, the concept’s interior design focuses on creating a high-tech yet relaxing experience
“We could have kept all the surfaces inside the IMk’s cabin flat, which would have equated to more physical space,” he said. “But if we did that, we would have lost some of its beauty, and we didn’t want to go that route. The IMk was never about being roomier than a traditional small car. It was about being an upscale, stylish partner that gives occupants a chic, elegant space to enjoy.”
Nissan Intelligent Driving: autonomous functions that enhance driver confidence
The Nissan IMk concept represents another step toward fully autonomous driving. It comes with the latest technologies to assist drivers in a wide range of environments, from expressways to city streets and parking lots.
The smartphone-enabled ProPILOT Remote Park feature with valet parking feature can search for a parking space automatically after you and your passengers step out of the car. When you’re ready to hit the road again, a simple tap of a button brings the car to you.
Among the other notable functions is the latest driver assistance technology, built off an advanced version of ProPILOT 2.0, which helps make driving safer, more pleasant and enjoyable for drivers by combining navigated highway driving with hands-off single-lane driving capabilities.
Nissan Intelligent Power: smooth, powerful performance in a small body
Nissan has been a pioneer in EV technology for more than 10 years. The Nissan LEAF was the first electric car introduced into the mainstream market and remains the world’s best-selling mass-market EV to date.
The Nissan IMk concept builds on this experience by offering a pure electric for alternative for customers who desire a compact vehicle suited for a sprawling metropolis.
The concept car’s extremely quiet operation and low centre of gravity gives urban commuters a smooth and powerful driving experience. The electric motor delivers excellent acceleration and a high level of responsiveness that’s effective in stop-and-go traffic and even on steep slopes.
Nissan Intelligent Integration: connecting drivers to the world
Just as popular cafes and lounges offer free Wi-Fi to keep customers connected, the IMk keeps occupants constantly and seamlessly plugged in with the latest connectivity technology.
A driver can link to the car with a smartphone to authenticate their identity, automatically apply personal settings – such as seat position, interior lighting and climate controls – and plan their commute.
Before leaving on a trip, the IMk informs the driver of the best departure time via smartphone, taking into consideration variables such as traffic congestion. After arriving and valet parking itself, the vehicle can seamlessly integrate with a home energy system and use spare battery capacity to balance home energy needs, using Nissan Energy Share (Vehicle-to-Home).
While on the trip, occupants can enjoy Nissan’s Invisible-to-Visible (I2V) technology. Merging information from sensors outside and inside the vehicle with data from the cloud, I2V technology can track the vehicle’s immediate surroundings and anticipate what’s ahead, even showing what’s behind a building or around the corner. Guidance is given in an interactive, human-like way, including via an avatar that appears inside the car.
“The IMk concept provides a glimpse of the new direction of Nissan Intelligent Mobility as technology evolves toward electrification and connectivity,” said Asako Hoshino, Nissan’s executive vice president overseeing global marketing and sales and the brand’s global EV business. “At Nissan, we intend to continue launching cars with the latest advanced systems to maintain our lead in automotive innovation.”