Nissan Mixim concept inside out

Published: 30 August 2007

Hold onto your hats, we’re off to 2020!

Mixim is Nissan’s futuristic Frankfurt show concept. The firm hopes the fully electric four-wheel drive ‘supermini coupe’ with a radical interior could be just what teenagers today will want to drive in 2020. It is also recognition that tomorrow’s drivers might want something very different from today’s. Nissan’s global design chief, Shiro Nakamura, puts it bluntly: ‘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. Mixim is one way to do that.’

What’s so different about the Mixim?

The back might resemble the current Citroen C4, but pretty much everything else about the Mixim is based far in the future. Aside from the striking mixture of exterior surfacing complete with racing helmet visor-inspired windscreen, it’s the interior that stands apart. Although based on a modified version of Nissan’s B-platform used for the Micra, Note and Cube, it’s no conventional supermini. The ‘three plus one’ seating configuration puts the driver at the centre of the action with two full-size seats slightly further back on each side. The occasional fourth seat for a slightly less good friend or a child seat flips up centrally behind the driver, accessible when the front seats swivel out of the way.

And a ‘see-through dash’ with a digital twist!

Nissan’s focus on the dashboard was to place the driver in a familiar computer-like environment. The F1-style cockpit has a U-shaped steering wheel to control most of the major functions but with only half a turn needed ‘lock to lock’. Beyond the usual driver info, the large central screen can also display computer-simulated ‘real-time’ images of the road ahead normally hidden to a driver below the windscreen from a forward-facing bumper-mounted camera. The display shows front wheel angle, too, supposedly for a single-seater sports car feel. As interior designer Eunsun Yoo puts it: ‘It’s like your bonnet is made of glass’. Further side screens relay images of the rear from side mirror-replacing cameras.

The kids want ‘electric’

‘The young identify with electricity. It’s what they use to power their computers and iPods. For Mixim, no other power source was considered. In 2015 or 2020 you will be green or you won’t exist.’ So says François Bancon the man behind the Mixim concept and general manager of Nissan’s suitably futuristic-sounding ‘exploratory and advance planning department’. The Mixim has two 50kW ‘Super Motor’ electric power units that drive each set of wheels (making it a 4×4) and features new compact lithium-ion batteries flat-packed below the floor for better interior space. An ‘expected’ 150-mile plus range and 112mph top speed are predicted.

But when will they get it?

Such ambitious targets should be met more quickly under Nissan’s recently signed joint venture with NEC to develop, manufacture and market such batteries. They should also be swifter to recharge than many current electric cars’ overnight eight-hour stints. Nissan says its new batteries will only take 20-40 minutes and has pledged as part of its ‘Nissan Green Program 2010’ to have a fully electric car by ‘early in the next decade’.

That’s far off, anything on Mixim arriving sooner?

The idea of lightweight small cars is certainly one idea bubbling under at Nissan HQ. The Mixim is only 950kg and Nissan has pledged to have a highly efficient conventionally engined ‘three-litre’ car (so-called because it only uses three litres of fuel for every 100km, or about 94mpg) by 2010 in Japan, plus a Nissan-developed hybrid, as opposed to the borrowed system in the 2007 US Altima. Clever ‘suicide-style’ doors – though probably not as spectacular as the Mixim’s carbonfibre ‘scissor’ numbers – are also promised on a forthcoming sports car. Even small details like the way the dashboard top is colour-graded from dark grey near the windscreen to light grey by the driver to reduce glare looks set to make production sooner rather than later.

The Mixim: a serious statement of intent

Set to be a Frankfurt showstopper, driving from one stage to another throughout the 2007 event, Mixim might be a concept but it works, and is, as Nissan’s PR blurb is keen to point out, ‘a long way from a flight of fancy.’ Nissan’s advanced planning man Bancon has the last word: ‘When we were creating Mixim, one of our major goals was for it to be seen as totally credible. By using existing technology, albeit the most advanced technology we currently have, Mixim can be seen as more than a show car. It is a serious statement of intent.’ So the thinking you see here could end up in a production car sooner than you think. Just don’t go expecting to see anything as outlandish as this in a Nissan dealer any time soon…

The Mixim: a serious statement of intent

Set to be a Frankfurt showstopper, driving from one stage to another throughout the 2007 event, Mixim might be a concept but it works, and is, as Nissan’s PR blurb is keen to point out, ‘a long way from a flight of fancy.’ Nissan’s advanced planning man Bancon has the last word: ‘When we were creating Mixim, one of our major goals was for it to be seen as totally credible. By using existing technology, albeit the most advanced technology we currently have, Mixim can be seen as more than a show car. It is a serious statement of intent.’ So the thinking you see here could end up in a production car sooner than you think. Just don’t go expecting to see anything as outlandish as this in a Nissan dealer any time soon…

By Guy Bird

Contributor, cultural curator, design commentator

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