Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.’s Mixim electric-vehicle concept to be shown at next month’s Frankfurt auto show was developed to appeal to today’s teens that will be adults by 2020 and who currently prefer the Internet to automobiles.

“If the motor industry is going to survive beyond the next few years, we are going to have to work hard to attract future generations of drivers – people who currently find it difficult to love the car,” says Mixim creator Francois Bancon, Nissan general manager-exploratory and advanced planning department.

While it may be alarmist talk to some, Nissan believes the car is viewed as “an oily, noisy throwback to the last century” by today’s teens that are “not car enthusiasts,” Bancon says in a statement.

“We could make the world’s best TV or cinema (advertisement), but if it was about a car, they just won’t bother to look at it. Not even if we put it on the Web.”

The Mixim concept coupe is an effort to remedy such apathy by featuring a computer-game inspired cockpit, complete with a videogame-like steering wheel that has Formula 1-style switches. Seating is 3+1, allowing for conversation among occupants.

Another interior element is a wraparound liquid-crystal-display instrument panel below the windshield that shows road and wheel angle and direction via a forward-facing camera.

Bancon says the Mixim “is a serious statement of intent,” as Nissan used existing technology to craft the vehicle, which rides on a modified version of the B platform that underpins the Micra and Cube.

It also is in keeping with Nissan’s environmentally friendly green directive, with two “Super Motor” electric motor/generators driving the front and rear wheels.

Super Motor, first seen on the EFFIS concept shown at the 2003 Tokyo auto show, has dual rotors inside and outside a single stator coil, allowing for power to be transmitted through two shafts at once, Nissan says.

The set-up, which allows the right and left wheels to be driven separately, also could be used in hybrid-electric or fuel-cell vehicles, the auto maker says.

The Mixim is powered by two compact lithium-ion batteries designed by Nissan and partner NEC Corp., which have a joint venture to manufacture and market the batteries.

The Mixim uses two Li-ions, each capable of 67 hp, providing a projected top speed of 112 mph (180 km/h) and maximum range of 155 miles (250 km). Fully recharging the Mixim’s batteries takes 20-40 minutes, the auto maker says.

Unlike other electric vehicles, the Mixim does not have an “anti-car” design, appealing to the heart, not the head, Nissan says, with a visor-like wraparound windshield, flowing roofline and truncated rear.

“The inspiration for (the) Mixim’s design development was 99% evil, 1% cute,” says Chief Designer Masato Inoue, who led the Mixim’s design team, whose members average 25 years of age.

Inoue says the Mixim’s theme was “Mini-Monster,” inspired by animation found in Japanese computer games.

The composite body is showcased in a liquid silver charcoal paint, Nissan says, with electric scissor doors a prominent design feature for easy ingress and egress.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com