The Nissan TeRRA SUV concept, to be unveiled on at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, combines two outstanding Nissan strengths – SUVs and EVs – in a vehicle that is equally in its element off-road or gliding silently through the city.
With an innovative 4×4 fuel-cell electric powertrain and an athletic exterior that has presence beyond its compact dimensions, TeRRA SUV concept takes sustainable motoring into exciting new territory.
Although TeRRA is presented as a design concept, not a technical exhibit, its proposed 4×4 fuel cell electric powertrain is far from imaginary.
Powering the front wheels is the electric propulsion system currently featured in the Nissan LEAF. In each back wheel, providing all-wheel power as needed, is an in-wheel electric motor, based on the working prototypes featured in three successive PIVO concepts. As no drive shafts are required to power the rear wheels, there is no hump in the floor or on the underbody. This allows for the flat boot floor and the underside bodypan.
Under the bonnet is ample space for Nissan’s hydrogen fuel cell stack: a flat, highly compact unit that features world-leading power density of 2.5kW/L. The latest in a series of Nissan fuel cells since 1996, the stack costs just one-sixth of its 2005 predecessor as the need for expensive precious metals has been slashed to one-quarter of the previous level.
Open the door and exterior toughness gives way to a surprisingly warm and welcoming interior. The door panel is a sculpted fusion of blond wood trim and colored acrylic, layered in an intriguing pattern. Ringing the cabin at shoulder height is a metal frame that gives TeRRA’s occupants a feeling of security. The wood/metal contrast continues across the dashboard, a beechwood-acrylic fusion that exudes a soft warmth. On the driver’s side, the steering and instrument console gently tapers out toward the driver, barely interrupting the clean lines of the dash.
Facing the driver is a unique instrument cluster. It’s an electronic tablet – just like today’s popular portable devices – that serves as an “intelligent key”. The driver docks it when entering the car and removes it when leaving. When docked in TeRRA, the tablet’s default view displays speed and other information but the driver can easily toggle to entertainment, communications, navigation and other views. Outside the car it provides all the functions we expect from a tablet, plus it stays continually in touch with the vehicle. The idea is seamless information and communication, on the road and everywhere else.
TeRRA’s driver sits front and almost centre in a unique diagonal layout that positions rear passengers over the shoulders of those in front, rather than directly behind.
The seats themselves express a hexagonal motif that is carried through various aspects of the design. Fold the three passenger seats down and you notice that TeRRA’s boot floor is completely flat, presenting no obstacles to carrying bikes, kayaks… or assemble-yourself furniture from Scandinavia. This flat surface is a function of the remarkably compact hydrogen fuel-cell and electric motor package.
TeRRA is purely a concept car, but Nissan says it is ready to mass-produce fuel cell electric vehicles whenever hydrogen becomes widely available.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]