One of Nissan's offerings at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit has certainly turned some heads. The Japanese carmaker's new Xmotion (pronounced "Crossmotion") SUV features a total of seven digital touchscreens in place of traditional instrument panels and manual controls. The effect is something more akin to a video game heads-up-display (HUD) than what you might expect in a vehicle.
Entering the vehicle you'd be faced with a five-screen, door-to-door instrument panel, a center console display equipped with a fingerprint reader, and a "digital room mirror" in the place of the traditional rearview mirror. The car's design also features a more rectangular, futuristic looking steering wheel, accompanied by a great deal of wooden trim. In promotion video released by Nissan, Lars Taubert, the concept car's exterior designer says, "In Japanese culture, the old and new coexists. We wanted this car to be a bridge linking the past and the future."
The vehicle also welcomes a new personal assistant, which takes the form of a friendly Japanese koi. A press release from Nissan states, "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."
A vehicle cabin containing more screens than many people have in their homes has, unsurprisingly, lead to questions of safety. Nissan promises that “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.”
These features will help the SUV fit in to a future of autonomous driving, but for now, the concept car is said to only be equipped for semi-autonomous, single highway lane driving with the ProPilot driver assist system.
While much too early to gauge consumer response to such a drastic (and screen-heavy) update to vehicular interiors, it's likely that the need for additional safety testing will mean we'll be waiting a while yet for the market to vote on this new level of digitalization in cars.