Nissan previews a tablet, complete with a car, for Paris

Nissan's Terra SUV concept, previewed ahead of its unveiling in Paris, is a compact SUV that uses a tablet for key and instrument panel.

Nissan Terra concept
Nissan will unveil its compact SUV Terra concept during the 2012 Paris Motor Show. Nissan

Showing off what seems like a very good idea for future cars, Nissan designed its new Terra SUV concept car to use a tablet as its key and instrument panel. The concept, to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, uses three electric motors to drive the wheels and a fuel cell stack for electricity.

The design of the Terra concept follows some cues seen on Nissan's Juke , so much so that the Terra looks like a very futuristic version of that compact SUV. High front fenders hold integrated LED headlights, while round fog lights are mounted below the bumper. Of course, as a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Terra does not need a large front air intake.

Click through for the full photo gallery and more details .

Typical for current concept cars are the lack of side mirrors, the large wheels, and the heavily sculpted sides.

Nissan provides no specifics about the drive system, except to note that the fuel cell stack sits under the hood, while a single drive motor turns the front wheels. The Terra gets all-wheel drive from two additional in-wheel motors at the rear wheels. How much hydrogen the car can carry, and at what pressure, was not revealed, although Nissan does say that it could produce cars with this drive system today if the hydrogen filling infrastructure were available.

The interior has four single seats arranged in a staggered fashion. The driver's seat is set as close to center as possible, the idea seeming to be that this position will lead to better car control.

With the Terra concept, the driver maintains possession of the control tablet. When getting into the car, the driver docks the tablet, enabling the car to be driven. In its docked position, the tablet shows a speedometer and, presumably, hydrogen level and energy usage. Nissan says the driver can switch the tablet view to infotainment functions, although it is a small screen to simultaneously show driving information such as vehicle speed.

Nissan will unveil the Terra during the press preview of the Paris Motor Show, beginning on September 27.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.

 

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