The Nissan IMk a small, snazzy box on wheels, inspired by an ancient Japanese art form and driven by a new design philosophy.
Concept cars are created without the constraints of the market. They don’t have to be practical or competitively priced. They are the blank canvases that allow designers and engineers to create for the sake of creation. Art in other words.
And yet concept cars sometimes make it to the market after a heavy application of real-world common sense. There is something about the IMk that could very well take it to the market.
The Nissan IMk is a small electric vehicle (EV) that will debut at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. Everyone is trying to make small bigger, but the IMk is small because it was designed to be small.
Nissan describes it as a small luxury EV that will be equally at home in big cities and traditional Japanese towns. Its design incorporates “Japanese DNA”, expressed by flowing lines of mizuhiki rice paper twine art. The bumper, wheels, tires, windows, tail lamps and roof use these flowing lines to blend the front, back, sides and interior into a harmonic whole. This represents Nissan’s new design language, “Timeless Japanese Futurism”.
The IMk concept is about more than going from A – B. It is about beauty and art and technology. There are no details of the power or range yet, but the car will offer seamless connectivity, the latest ProPilot driver-assist suite and responsive, nimble driving.
Inside the IMk is rather pretty, albeit quirky as anything. EVs allow much more flexibility, and the IMk uses this to create a room-style interior. The seats are bench shaped, while copper and tonal highlights on the dash and door panels reinforce the feeling of a little cabin.
But it is a high-tech little cabin. Driving information appears to float in mid-air, thanks to a prism display that can be activated via touch. Should you swipe to change a map, for example, a flock of birds will fly across the screen. Yes.
The interior could have offered much more space if the surfaces had all been vertical or horizontal, but this was not consistent with Timeless Japanese Futurism. Especially not in a concept designed to be very small and very stylish.
The reason it feels that the IMk will make it to market is that it would be a natural complement to the Nissan Leaf, the best-selling proper-car EV in the world. One can see a range of Nissan EVs, with the IMk followed by the Leaf, a luxury SUV perhaps and a sporty competitor to the likes of Tesla.
We hope the IMk becomes a product without sacrificing too much quirkiness. We need a bit of quirk. There is too much normal on the road right now.