Nissan Chill-Out Concept Hints at Leaf Successor

·4 min read
Photo credit: Nissan
Photo credit: Nissan
  • 2021 Nissan Chill-Out concept is a crossover positioned below the Ariya, and is expected to preview the next-gen Leaf due by the middle of the decade.

  • Nissan has unveiled plans to introduce 15 new EVs by 2030 in a variety of segments, showing several distinct concepts this fall.

  • The successor to the current Leaf is expected to adopt a crossover bodystyle, mirroring the development of the Bolt EUV.

As a part of Nissan Ambition 2030 strategy laid out this week, the automaker gave the world a glimpse of some possible vehicles we could see in the coming years with four distinct concepts, including two crossovers, a convertible and a small pickup truck. All four served up plenty of futuristic design elements, with some appearing more likely to reach production than others.

While the Max-Out convertible and Surf-Out truck certainly imagined some adventurously-styled but plausible electric vehicles, the two crossover concept were perhaps the more telling previews of vehicles we could actually see in the future. And out of the four only one has been built as a physical concept, as the other three are renderings for now.

The Chill-Out concept seen here can perhaps be described as a smaller and more coupe-like version of the Ariya, featuring a relatively tall ride height and a very rakish greenhouse. The concept adopts a two-tone look, separating the greenhouse from the rest of the car, and a relatively tall trunk lid sitting above the transparent rear fascia housing five pill-shaped brake lights on each side.

Photo credit: Nissan
Photo credit: Nissan

While some of the details of the Chill-Out concept certainly belong in the world of concept cars, the overall shape is very plausible, and also quite trendy at the moment.

"A new way to think about mobility, Nissan Chill-out is a mobile haven," the automaker says. "It features a sleek and modern design, advanced safety technology, and a productive and comfortable interior space. The crossover concept utilizes the CMF-EV platform, delivering high levels of comfort and an energizing driving experience."

Nissan has also indicated that the Chill-out concept features the e-4ORCE dual-motor all-wheel drive system.

The CMF-EV platform, of course, refers to the battery-electric Common Module Family architecture developed for the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance that had been announced some time ago, intended to underpin a variety of different bodystyles from the three brands. Among other qualities, it allows for the installation of the battery at different heights, depending on the model.

The Ariya, on its way to dealerships right now, is one of the first two production vehicles to use this platform.

Photo credit: Nissan
Photo credit: Nissan

"The platform is of course also modular in its length so that we can further tailor the battery to the type of vehicle and the desired range," the automaker indicated in 2020. "The CMF-EV can thus be used in both electric vehicles designed predominantly for everyday suburban trips, as well as for models capable of making long journeys without needing to recharge."

When it comes to production chances, the next-generation Leaf has been rumored to become a crossover for some time, with Nissan expected to drop the hatchback profile in favor of something sleeker and more coupe-shaped. The Chill-Out concept certainly appears to preview just such a vehicle, complete with a footprint positioned below the Ariya.

At the moment it is expected that the current-generation Leaf will give way to a new model sometime in 2024, after having remained in production for about six years. However, there is still some time before we're likely to see a production-ready model.

Why would Nissan potentially shift to a different bodystyle?

Even though Nissan had been a mass-market EV pioneer with the Leaf, consumer tastes are currently seen as shifting toward crossovers of all sizes, with the Ariya playing the role of a midsize offering. Electric hatchbacks, meanwhile, have taken a back seat role despite being popular early on, while crossovers like the Tesla Model Y have surged ahead. The upcoming Volkswagen ID.5 will offer a good look at just how a coupe-shaped electric crossover could look like, testing the waters for this bodystyle in a number of global markets.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned