Debuting later this month at the Paris Motor Show, the Nissan TeRRA concept vehicle aims to demonstrate that the Japanese automaker is more than willing and able to produce a fuel-cell electric car when the infrastructure becomes available.
Using high-pressure hydrogen, a fuel-cell car generator powers electric motors with no emissions. But rather than just sticking an experimental powertrain in a Nissan Leaf and calling it a day, the automaker opted to craft a new vehicle with an entirely different mission.
The Nissan TeRRA concept uses the Leaf’s electric motor to power the front wheels. But it also has smaller motors at each of the rear wheels, borrowed from the Pivo concept vehicles, that make it a true four-wheeler. Slightly larger than the Nissan Juke—and we wouldn’t be surprised if the next-generation Juke shares some styling elements with this concept—the TeRRA was created as “a new approach to SUVs that’s relevant to urban life.”
Among those “new approaches” is a diagonal seating position that places the driver inboard of the rear passengers and gives him or her the sensation of a central driving position. With big tires and a thick pillars, Nissan’s designers tried to give it a masculine look. Yet its interior is anything but, carrying light colors and contrasting wood and metal accents. Also inside, the Nissan’s gauges are simply a digital tablet that can double as an entertainment device, displaying communications and navigation functions.
With electric motors and a hydrogen powertrain, the floor remains flat, giving the Nissan TeRRA concept plenty of room for passengers despite its diminutive size, as those inside don’t have to compete with a driveshaft cutting into the floor for leg space. Nissan says its technology to develop a production version of the hydrogen fuel-cell technology is available—and one-sixth the price it would have cost to produce in 2005. All it needs now is a commitment that the fuel of the future will be there to power it.