Nissan reveals Xmotion design study at 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Article by Christian A., on January 17, 2018

Nissan is well-known for creating groundbreaking crossovers as well as sports utility vehicles. At the 2018 North American International Auto Show (Detroit Auto Show), the Japanese carmaker has unveiled a new design study that signals its design direction for 2020 and beyond – in the form of the new Nissan Xmotion three-row SUV Concept.

Pronounced as “cross motion,” the Xmotion concept explores the possible design for Nissan’s future compact SUV. It features a striking exterior that looks into the future with its sculpted body and menacing front end, as well as a well-crafted interior inspired by Japanese landscape. Just like a purposeful traditional SUV, the Xmotion comes with a high stance, bulked-up fenders, high-utility proportions as well as all-terrain-ready wheels and tires. The new Xmotion delivers American-style utility while taking inspiration from Japanese culture, and also fusing traditional craftsmanship with new-generation Nissan Intelligent Mobility technology.

The new Nissan Xmotion concept sports a bold evolution of the brand’s signature V-motion grille, now wider and deeper, to the point that this new form was the inspiration behind the name of the concept. The new grille dons horizontal bars inspired by Japanese architecture, featuring a blade-like appearance with deep carbon color and high-gloss finish. Nissan hopes to employ this evolved V-motion grille for future production crossovers and SUVs.

Another Nissan signature design element applied on the new Xmotion is a set of so-called "boomerang" headlamps that resemble forged steel blades on the design study. These headlamps integrate all functions-- high beam, low beam, turn signals and positioning lamps -- into a single unit, with lighting intensity and color changing according to the function. On the rear, the rear lights take inspiration from kumiko, or Japanese woodwork and puzzles.

Meanwhile, the new Nissan Xmotion concept dons U-shaped bodyside highlights that deliver a smooth, continuous visual flow from front to rear fenders. The new Xmotion rides on rugged, metal-crafted 21-inch aluminum wheels physically laminated by all-terrain tires, making rubber become tires part of the rims.

Inside, the new Xmotion combines traditional Japanese elements and futuristic technological lifestyle cues, as made possible by using traditional construction techniques, craftsmanship and materials. The spacious interior – thanks to a long wheelbase and wheels pushed out to the corners – delivers "4+2" passenger layout, featuring up to three rows of side-by-side individual seats. The third row of seats was achieved by employing a retractable "rooftop box" that could accommodate a variety of bags.

Designers were inspired by the imagery of a Japanese landscape in creating the interior of the Xmotion, with a floor that represents a river and the center console – employing a traditional Japanese architectural wood joinery technique called kanawa tsugi -- serving as a bridge connecting the front and rear passenger sections. The design of the instrument panel, meanwhile, is a modern interpretation of the traditional kigumi wood joinery.

While the exterior makes use of special shade of silver, carbon fiber weaving and scarlet accents, the interior is wrapped in red, white and touches of black.

In addition, the new Nissan Xmotion is equipped with a simple Human Machine Interface (HMI) as well as seven digital screen portions. It is also fitted with a camera monitoring system instead of traditional door mirrors, displaying images and other information on the end screens.

Press Release

Nissan Xmotion Concept fuses technology with Japanese artistry

 Dramatic three-row SUV concept signals a Nissan design direction for 2020 and

 Stunning exterior features a powerful, dynamic presence with understated
sculptural beauty – including unique U-shaped highlights and a bold evolution of
Nissan’s signature V-motion grille

 Crafted interior design symbolizes a Japanese landscape, honoring Nissan’s roots
while looking forward to an era of connected, autonomous vehicles enabled by
Nissan Intelligent Mobility

DETROIT (Jan. 15, 2018) – Building on Nissan’s long history of cutting-edge crossovers
and SUVs, including the recently introduced Nissan Kicks and Rogue Sport, the new
Nissan Xmotion Concept is a design exploration for another potentially groundbreaking
compact SUV.

Unveiled at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, the Xmotion Concept
features strong hints of a traditional SUV – the high stance, high-utility proportions and
bulked-up fenders, stuffed with all-terrain-ready wheels and tires. Yet as the name
implies, the Xmotion (pronounced “cross motion”) Concept fuses Japanese culture and
traditional craftsmanship with American-style utility and new-generation Nissan
Intelligent Mobility technology.

“The Xmotion Concept is a study in how seemingly disparate elements can gain power
and strength through coexistence,” said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of global
design at Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. “It draws inspiration from the Japanese aesthetics and
techniques that have been passed down through generation after generation. At the
same time, it achieves the modern purposefulness required for drivers in the near-future
era of connected, autonomous crossover vehicles.”

The origin story

SUVs are essentially an American invention, originally created to take families where
ordinary sedans couldn’t go. They still have, to a large degree, a “Western” influence and
utilitarian flavor – which tend to create a look of uniformity and lack of refinement.

The Nissan global design team behind the Xmotion Concept wanted to bring something
fresh to the segment by infusing Nissan’s Japanese heritage and aesthetics – while also
preparing for a new automotive world, driven by autonomous technologies.

The goal was to allow contrasting ideas and attributes to coexist. The result is a vehicle
that’s quiet yet dynamic, calm yet emotional, and sophisticated yet tough.

Tasked with bringing that challenge to life, the team found inspiration in the Japanese
sense of aesthetics, architecture, traditional crafts and landscapes – such as views of Mt.
Fuji framed by an electric Tokyo cityscape.

To better understand the traditional crafts, spirits, techniques and materials that would
be integrated into the vehicle, design and color team members studied at craft museums,
even spending time with master woodworkers and carpenters who specialize in the
construction of shrines and temples.

The Xmotion Concept exterior: tough, yet sophisticated

Concept cars are a view to the future, a way to dream in three dimensions. As a window
to the next generation of Nissan crossovers and SUVs, the Xmotion Concept’s exterior
projects a bold dimensionality – what designers call “purposeful strength.”

There’s an instant impression of the body protecting both the interior and the occupants
inside. The “outer” layer of the Xmotion Concept is the protective armor over the solid
foundation and core of the vehicle, which is exposed in the front and rear lower bumpers
and side sills and signals its intrinsic toughness.

“The Xmotion Concept’s exterior is very dynamic, very wedged. The strong fenders are
fluid and emotional, yet somehow very graceful,” explained Albaisa. “That’s a difference
between this design and conventional SUVs with Western influence. The Xmotion Concept
embodies quiet dynamism and a purity that gives it a very unique presence.”

Next-level Nissan design language

When viewing the new Xmotion Concept for the first time, there’s an immediate
recognition of Nissan signature design elements, starting with the powerful front grille,
fascia and “boomerang” headlamps.

Originally introduced as a key element of the broadly acclaimed third-generation Nissan
Murano crossover, the V-motion grille has been refined and adapted to nearly all current
Nissan models – capped by its new, more three-dimensional execution.

For use with the Xmotion Concept, the V-motion grille has evolved even further – wider,
deeper and more powerful than ever. This new form even inspired the name of the
Xmotion Concept itself and sets the stage for use on production crossovers and SUVs well
into the next decade.

Adding to its powerful shape and presence, the new grille design features horizontal bars
inspired by Japanese architecture and executed in a sharp, blade-like lattice pattern with
its deep carbon color and high gloss finish completing the grille’s dramatic appearance.

The sharp-edged design theme carries over to the Xmotion Concept’s interpretation of
the signature Nissan “boomerang” headlamps, which resemble forged steel blades. The
headlamps integrate all functions into a single unit – high beam, low beam, turn signals
and positioning lamps. The intensity and color of the lighting changes depending on the

In the rear, the unique tail light design was inspired by the detail and warmth of kumiko,
Japanese woodwork and puzzles. The structure of the lights is, in fact, an optical illusion
created by hologram technology.

On the sides of the Xmotion Concept, innovative U-shaped bodyside highlights impart a
highly sculptural presence while creating a smooth, unbroken visual flow from front to
rear fenders. The section is very crisp and deep, yet the movement it conveys is soft,
subtle and quiet.

“The U-shaped body sides presented a big challenge in changing from one surface to
another while keeping the shape, Albaisa explained. “We went through a lot of clay
modeling work to achieve the look.”

The sculptural simplicity of the Xmotion Concept exterior is contrasted by the rugged,
metal-crafted wheels and all-terrain tire design. Like the rest of vehicle, the mechanical
tool-inspired wheels and all-terrain tires coexist as one piece, with the tire tread
physically laminated over the 21-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

This application has the effect of the tires becoming part of the wheel, making the
rubber-oriented rims look larger than their actual size. The tires were developed in
conjunction with Michelin and feature run-flat construction.

A “4+2” interior layout

Like the Xmotion Concept exterior, the starting point for the dramatic interior was the
coexistence of traditional Japanese elements with more futuristic technological lifestyle
cues. The designers turned to traditional construction techniques, craftsmanship and
materials but applied them with a modern design aesthetic.

With its long wheelbase, with wheels and tires pushed out to the extremes of the
corners, the Xmotion Concept allows for the creation of a fresh, “4+2” passenger layout.
Featuring three rows of side-by-side individual seats, it’s designed to provide a perfect
space for a young couple, another couple and two children or pets in the third row.
“We envision the vehicle to be a functional, everyday SUV that can be driven every day
yet can take the owners and friends to a national park or recreation area on a whim,”
said Albaisa.

In order to accommodate the extra row of seats, the Xmotion Concept includes a
retractable “rooftop box.” The design is aerodynamically efficient and flexible enough to
carry a variety of bags or recreational equipment.

A landscape with a bridge

The interior was created with the imagery of a Japanese landscape. The floor represents
a river – with the center console acting as a bridge that connects the front and rear
passenger areas.

The console, the core of the interior design, uses one of the many traditional Japanese
architectural wood joinery techniques, kanawa tsugi. Found in the carpentry used to build
religious temples and shrines, the technique doesn’t use a single nail or glue and is
known for its strength and durability.

Similarly, the instrument panel design is a modern interpretation of the traditional kigumi
wood joinery. By using the kigumi structure in the instrument panel and console, the
Xmotion Concept interior suggests a robust bone structure, creating a sense of strength
and trust that passengers want to feel in their vehicle.

Careful attention was especially paid to the grain direction, texture and even the aroma
of genuine wood to look and feel as if the whole instrument panel and console were cut
out of a single Japanese cedar tree. Out of respect for resource efficiency, the genuine
wood look was achieved by using veneers, which were sliced out of a single tree that was
selected from the woods in Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan.

Even the headrest design for the seats was inspired by kumiko woodwork. It not only
provides necessary support but also creates a sense of togetherness inside the vehicle.
With the see-through headrest design, the rear-seat passengers can enjoy layers of
various patterns as they look at the headrest from different angles. Scarlet red paint,
developed with Japan lacquer in mind, is applied.

“The seats are like ships that float and go slowly with the flow of the water. On the floor,
we made a pattern that reminds the occupants of waves,” said Albaisa. “There’s also a
hidden landscape at the third row when the door is opened, when Mt. Fuji appears
dramatically and understatedly.”

On the console, an item called “floating commander” can sense a passenger’s movement.
It contains a motion sensor inside and scans the motion of a passenger’s hand to control
the entertainment system as well as the heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Colors of the past and future

Like every other aspect of the Xmotion Concept, the use of color was carefully considered
in an effort to bring together tradition and modernity. Two colors were selected for use
on the exterior.

A special shade of silver was created to resemble pewter, a very solid yet malleable
metal traditionally used in Japan for fine, detailed handicraft work. The color showcases
the various body shapes and contours, as well as resonating very well with the colors and
materials used inside the Xmotion Concept. The wheels have a hammered texture,
suggesting handcrafted finishes of the metal.

The inner structure elements, such as the front and rear lower bumpers, side sills and
overfenders, are wrapped in carbon woven in the Nishijin textile district in Japan, known
for its traditional fine textiles for kimonos and tapestries – providing a unique texture and
sense of strength. The idea of weaving carbon fiber in traditional Japanese patterns gives
a twist on honoring tradition with a very modern material.

In addition, the Xmotion Concept exterior features understated scarlet accents,
representing energy and strength.

The interior palette includes colors representing Japan – red and white – as well as
touches of black to symbolize modern technology. The interior colors transition gradually
from white and grey in front – with some black accents to showcase the technology
elements – to red in the rear areas.

Printed suede and laser-embossed suede are prominently used throughout the interior to
convey comfort and serenity. Nishijin-weave carbon fiber accents are used inside as well.
The interior coloring was inspired by the notion of utsuroi, or “gradual transitions” – with
the traditional red blending into the advanced future. White has a purity, cleanliness and
simplicity, while the scarlet red adds a brightness, strength and energy to the space.

A very human graphic user interface

The Human Machine Interface (HMI) of the Xmotion Concept, like the vehicle design, is
very simple. For example, the switch from ProPILOT drive mode to manual drive mode,
and vice versa, can be done by using the PD Commander, located on the center console
and steering switch.

The Xmotion Concept also includes a total of seven digital screen portions. Three main
displays and left and right end displays span the width of the instrument panel. There is
also a “digital room mirror” in the ceiling and a center console display.

The displays and infotainment system can be controlled by gestures and eye movements.
Intuitive controls and a voice command system allow drivers to focus on driving, helping
them access various information in a smart, easy and safe manner.

“Floating koi” virtual personal assistant

Fingerprint authentication is used to start the operation of the Xmotion Concept. When
the driver touches the fingerprint authentication area on the top of the console, the
opening sequence starts, awakening the virtual personal assistant – which takes the
shape of a Japanese koi fish.

The koi jumps into the main screen. After linking with the driver's smartphone, the
navigation system automatically recognizes the destination, and other user information –
such as weather, music and vehicle system info – will be activated. The navigation
system recognizes the surrounding “information” while traveling.

For example, in autonomous drive mode, while changing lanes or overtaking other traffic,
the virtual personal assistant will pick up other “browsing” information about points of
interest along the way. In this way, the koi acts as a storyteller to connect human and

The Xmotion Concept also uses a camera monitoring system in place of traditional door
mirrors and displays images and other information on the end display screens. The
system senses and monitors other vehicles around the Xmotion Concept.

“The vehicle has a beautifully unique graphic user interface, or GUI, that’s designed for
the human in all of us – presenting a novel spatial world with digital precision,” said
Albaisa. “It puts powerful technology at the users’ fingertips, including both the driver
and passengers. It is designed to make your life easier and the journey and more
exciting and enjoyable.”

Xmotion Concept – ready for the world stage

The Xmotion Concept connects Nissan’s Japanese roots and rich heritage of ingenuity. It
is a new creation, while honoring the spirit and mind of those who have gone before. Its
design and Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies are ultimately very feasible for the

“We see Nissan and the Xmotion Concept bringing celebration to everyday life, to make
every day feel like going somewhere special,” Albaisa said. “We hope that those who
view the vehicle at auto shows around the world will feel the very same way.”

Source: Nissan

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