Nissan previewed a forthcoming all-electric model in the form of the conceptual Nissan Ariya. Based on the Leaf platform, it is a follow-up to the Nissan IMx concept shown in Tokyo two years ago. Taking advantage of a rapidly expanding electric crossover market, Nissan will soon start commercial production of the EV.

Retaining some traditional elements of the company design language, the Ariya concept previews the future direction of the design team. “We replaced the conventional grille with what we call a ‘shield’—an expressive piece with innovative 3-D texture within that goes beyond cosmetics. It also acts as a way to highlight the technology lurking within the vehicle,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design. “In this case, it’s a radar sensor and other technologies that help the Ariya concept read the road and visualize things the driver can’t see.”

Launching an electric crossover is a logical step for Nissan looking at the global demand for this new genre of cars.

Powering the Ariya are two electric motors, each sitting over one axle. Nissan has not hinted at the driving range of the concept, nor whether the car would feature the Leaf’s batteries. The Nissan Leaf has an EPA-rated driving range of 363km. However, Nissan might equip the Ariya with a larger battery, looking at long-range rivals like Mercedes-Benz EQC and Audi e-Tron Quattro.

Albaisa continued, “With a flat floor—made possible by the battery pack layout and absence of an internal combustion engine—the Ariya concept welcomes occupants as they step in the cabin with a feeling of expansion and openness. Panels blend naturally into each other and flow seamlessly from the front, sides and rear, giving a panoramic impression from any seat position.”

Nissan Intelligent Mobility will be a prominent feature of Ariya's cabin.

If Nissan sticks to its timeline of launching the Ariya in 2021, it will enter an already competitive market. Following up the Leaf with a crossover makes sense for the Japanese automaker, which at one point commanded a healthy share of EV sales in crucial markets.

The Nissan Ariya represents more than just a new product in the company’s lineup. It will serve as a new platform to showcase the firms’s NIM (Nissan Intelligent Mobility) initiative. Furthermore, it will start the NIM ecosystem worldwide, which future Nissan models will interact with.