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Nissan has unveiled what could be the first look at its next Leaf electric hatch, with the added wonder of autonomous driving thrown in: the IDS concept.

Revealed at the 2015 Tokyo motor show today, the IDS takes much from Nissan’s latest styling language – as seen with the new Maxima and Murano, the facelifted Altima and the Sway concept – while pushing the look further with even sharper lines and and a seriously aerodynamic profile.

Styling is only part of the package, however, with the IDS introduced as a preview not only of Nissan’s evolving design language, but also its electric powertrain and driverless vehicle technology.

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The company has yet to reveal specifics of the IDS concept’s electric powertrain, however, although it has confirmed the use of a high-capacity 60kWh battery pack – twice the size of the current Leaf hatch’s pack – along with the promise of long-distance driving range.

Combined with the weight advantage of a carbon-fibre body and a slew of aerodynamic fins and cuts, a production version of the IDS could offer range comparable to that of a conventional small petrol-powered hatch.

The other point of Nissan’s focus with the IDS is its evolving autonomous driving systems, developed under the ‘Intelligent Driving’ banner.

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As detailed earlier this week, the Intelligent Driving system utilises five radar sensors, 12 cameras, four laser scanners and a number of ultrasonic sensors to give the vehicle’s computers a 360-degree view of its surroundings, all working together to help it make split-second decisions during autonomous driving.

The IDS concept’s autonomous technology also informed the vehicle’s interior design, with two seating layouts featured: one for Manual Drive, with all seats facing forward, and another for Piloted Drive, with the steering wheel stored away and the front seats turned towards the centre of the cabin.

With a 2020 launch on the agenda, Nissan has already begun testing its driverless tech in Japan and – in partnership with NASA – in California.

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Speaking at the IDS concept’s unveiling today, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the carmaker is aiming for a new goal dubbed ‘two zeroes’ – the already well-publicised ‘zero emissions’ of its electric vehicles, and now also ‘zero fatalities’, thanks to the eventual perfection of driverless vehicles.

Watch for elements of the IDS concept’s styling – and its technology – to feature in future Nissan models, likely beginning with the new Leaf that should appear in the coming year.

MORE: all driverless vehicle news coverage




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