Nissan IMk electric city car spotted testing under camouflage

What could be a production version of the Nissan IMk electric concept car from 2019 has been spied testing on public roads in the US

What could be a production version of the Nissan IMk electric city-car concept has been spotted testing under camouflage on public roads in the US. Our spy pictures show a car with very similar proportions and lines to the concept version (see below), which was revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show back in 2019.

At the time of its unveiling, Nissan gave no indication that the concept would go into production, although it did say it previewed design features and autonomous driving systems that could feature on forthcoming electric models. The company is also considering whether to make the next generation of its Micra supermini fully electric, although the IMk sits a class below that model in terms of size.

The IMk is reminiscent of Japanese-market 'kei' cars, which are designed to fit into a low-tax category in Nissan's home market, but any production version is expected to sold more widely. Nissan has described this segment as "prevalent in Japan and becoming so the world over".

Nissan IMk concept

Nissan revealed the IMk concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2019, showcasing design features and autonomous driving systems that could appear on its vehicles in the future. Billed as the "ultimate urban commuter", the IMk concept is built on a brand-new platform for electric vehicles that Nissan could use for rivals to the Honda e and electric Fiat 500 in the near future.

The concept featured a single electric motor and advanced ProPilot driver assistance systems that can cope with "hands-off single-lane driving". Meanwhile, a Remote Park feature lets the IMk can find itself a parking space after dropping its occupants off at their destination, returning later at the tap of a smartphone. Drivers can use their smartphones to authenticate their identity, allowing the IMk to automatically adjust seating positions, interior lighting and climate control to each user’s preferred setting.

Based on the ‘Timeless Japanese Futurism’ design philosophy, the exterior is typical of an electric car in many ways: the wheels are pushed to the corners of the chassis to improve passenger space, while front grille is closed off. A combination of flat, aerodynamic wheels and cameras replacing traditional door mirrors help to reduce drag and increase range.

Nissan said the IMk’s interior represents "a new type of 'room' that exudes the nature of a cafe or lounge". Aside from the starter button and driving mode shifter, there are no physical buttons: instead, the car’s functions are controlled by a variety of touch-sensitive surfaces. Driving information – such as speed and sat-nav directions – appear to hover in mid-air thanks to a holographic display system, which also includes an avatar feature to communicate with passengers.

Nissan says the IMk concept should be relaxing as well as convenient, with the dimpled texture of the bench seat giving "the impression of sitting on a cloud". At 3,434mm long, 1,512mm wide and 1,644mm high, the IMk concept isn’t copiously spacious, but according to Nissan’s executive design director Satoru Tai, that isn’t the point. 

"We could have kept all the surfaces inside the IMk’s cabin flat, which would have equated to more physical space," he explained. "The IMk was never about being roomier than a traditional small car. It was about being an upscale, stylish partner that gives occupants a chic, elegant space to enjoy".

When the IMk isn’t in use, Nissan says it can integrate with a home energy system – a process known as vehicle-to-grid charging – by using any spare energy in the battery to help meet domestic electricity needs.

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