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Nissan debuts electric SUV

TeRRA launches at Paris auto show


September 12, 2012
by CAR staff

PARIS – The Nissan TeRRA SUV concept will be unveiled at the 2012 Paris Motor Show on September 27. The vehicle has a 4×4 fuel-cell electric powertrain.

Envisioned as “the one and only Zero Emission SUV,” TeRRA builds on Nissan’s success with urban SUVs and crossovers like Murano and asserts that its zero-emission expertise extends all the way to fuel cells.

“Our challenge was to take Nissan’s strength in SUVs and crossovers forward into the zero-emissions era, fuel cells being our new frontier in zero emission mobility” said Francois Bancon, Nissan’s division general manager of product strategy and planning. “Not big and tough for the desert, the aim was a new approach to SUVs that’s relevant to urban life. The unique diagonal seating layout that offers an exciting driving experience thanks to exceptional visibility that creates a sense of being in control under any conditions.”

“We took our inspiration from the lifestyles of youthful customers in Northern Europe,” said Shiro Nakamura, Nissan senior vice president and chief creative officer. “We heard their aspiration for sustainable mobility that can take them anywhere they want to go.”

“Exploring our imagination of that natural space with the exterior, we have redefined defined the power of the SUV heritage in a much more athletic way, one that expresses our vision of the zero emissions future,” Nakamura said.

Although TeRRA is presented as a design concept, not a technical exhibit, its proposed 4×4 fuel cell electric powertrain is far from imaginary.

Powering the front wheels is the electric propulsion system currently featured in the Nissan LEAF. In each back wheel, providing all-wheel power as needed, is an in-wheel electric motor, based on the working prototypes featured in three successive PIVO concepts. As no drive shafts are required to power the rear wheels, there is no hump in the cabin floor or on the underbody. This allows for the flat cabin deck and the underside bodypan.

Under the hood is ample space for Nissan’s proprietary hydrogen fuel cell stack: a flat, highly compact unit that features world-leading power density of 2.5kW/L. The latest in a series of Nissan fuel cells since 1996, the stack costs just one-sixth of its 2005 predecessor as the need for expensive precious metals has been slashed to one-quarter of the previous level.

TeRRA is purely a concept car, but it signals that Nissan is ready to mass-produce fuel cell electric vehicles whenever hydrogen becomes widely available.