Vowing to make a "zero emission, zero fatality" future a reality, Nissan unveiled its latest all-electric concept car at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show: the IDS. As an electric vehicle (EV), the Nissan IDS Concept fulfills that first goal, like the current Leaf EV. The Leaf has become a best-seller among electric cars, and while its niche is small, Nissan has proven that it's possible to build an affordable, mainstream EV.

The IDS Concept aims to carry the EV torch further. With a 60 kWh battery pack, it would have greater power and driving range than the current Leaf, which has a 24 kWh battery and EPA-rated range of 84 miles per charge. As this is merely a concept, there are no range estimates on the Nissan IDS.

Mitigating crashes

Never having to visit a gasoline station isn't the only way the IDS Concept is thinking about the future. It also boasts the ability to drive itself. Nissan is working on autonomous cars with the goal of zero traffic fatalities playing into the IDS Concept. The thinking is that, because human error factors into the vast majority of accidents, having a car that compensates for them with a plethora of always-on safety and driving aids, it mitigates the effect. Collectively, Nissan dubs this "Intelligent Driving." 

"Nissan Intelligent Driving improves a driver's ability to see, think and react," Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn said. "It compensates for human error, which causes more than 90 percent of all car accidents. As a result, time spent behind the wheel is safer, cleaner, more efficient and more fun."

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If you're wary of a future in which electric cars such as the IDS whiz you through traffic silently as a captive, have no fear: Nissan says it committed to making cars that people enjoy driving - and can still control when desired.

With both piloted and manual driving modes, "it's about giving the driver more choices and more control," Ghosn said. In other words, in situations where it isn't pleasant or even needed to drive, such as rush-hour traffic, the Nissan IDS Concept is happy to take over. Other times, like when the open road calls, you can take the wheel.

Adaptive modes

Either way, the IDS morphs to the commute at hand. During autonomous driving, this electric hatchback's 4-person interior becomes passenger focused by retracting the steering wheel into the dash as a large flat screen panel emerges to display information ranging from daily appointments to text messages. In manual drive mode, the driver takes the reins and the cabin transforms even the lighting for better driver concentration. All along, the Nissan IDS Concept's sensors constantly monitor traffic.

Other neat tricks this futuristic, carbon-fiber-bodied car has up its sleeve include wireless charging, the ability to park itself, and an outside-facing electronic display that can flash messages such as "after you" to pedestrians. While much of this may seem like science fiction in the here and now, the reality is that we are getting closer. As such, the Nissan IDS Concept is a preview of that a not-too-distant future.

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