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Click above for hi-res gallery of the X-by-Wire EA2 Concept

Nissan showed off a drive-by-wire concept that wasn't about touting the technology itself, but the space and features you could get back because of it. By fitting a steer-by-wire, brake-by-wire, and shift-by-wire systems, 11 centimeters of extra space was added to the cabin which allowed for a third row of seats in the rear of this Murano-based concept. The room came from pushing the wheels out to the far corners, which could be safely done without sacrificing vehicle dynamics due to the lack of mechanical linkages.

The small, race-style steering wheel needs less turning input, and the column can be tilted up completely out of the way. The center tunnel has become a beautifully finished control panel that gently arcs up to greet the driver. When you don't need it, it can also be folded back over itself creating even more space in the front area. When I did, the swath of empty space between the front seats was so inviting I almost wanted to take a nap.

The Nissan R&D engineer with the vehicle said that there were no plans to put the technology into any products right now. But it is being studied, especially one of the main issues -- as with all drive-by-wire systems -- the implementation of redundant systems.

You can check out the Nissan 360 event site for more details on the EA2 concept and all the vehicles in Nissan's lineup. In the mean time, be sure to check out the gallery of hi-res photos below.

Our travel and lodging for this media event was provided by the manufacturer.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I like this idea. If it gets used to reverse the effect of growth hormones being used on all current vehicles.

      Compacts will have as much interior space as small cars; small cars as much as mid-size; mid-size as much as large. They don't have to all get fatter every year! Yay!

      And our biggest problem, the large SUV, could be shrunk as well. It looks like they made a 7-seater out of a Murano. Thats good for fuel economy and handling when you don't have to buy an Urban Assault Vehicle just to get to soccer practice.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a way to kick up the hornets nest by showing a 3rd row Murano, if the boys and girls over are the fan site aren't having a tizzy (negative at that) over this I don't know what would set them off.

      • 7 Years Ago
      I am not sold on the by wire systems being responsible for the extra space. Shifting the wheels extremely out to the corners like that gives the extra space and is possible with conventional systems. Their drawing of steering rack placement doesn't preclude a standard collumn with u-joints like many FWD cars use anyways.

      I can only imagine the fun that ensues when the alternator on the car fails and the entire electrical system goes dead at once. No steering, throttle, brakes or shifter. What fun. Maybe the door releases will be electronic as well so you're really trapped! I'll pass, thank you.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Yup, which is precisely why Autozone does not stock an alternator for a 2006 Nissan Murano. ;)
        • 7 Years Ago
        Right, because let me tell you, alternators fail ALL THE TIME.
        • 7 Years Ago
        All these systems are already on modern vehicles - there many a ton of vehicles with electric power steering - the Honda fit for one, and a lot of GM sedans. Drive by wire is standard in almost every vehicle now, and brake by wire is something Mercedes had in their E-class a few years ago. I am not worried about their reliability.

        In case you folks did not notice, they fit seven seats into a long wheel base Murano here. I have an 03 Murano and there is no way I would want three rows in it. Way too cramped.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Electric power steering is far different from steer-by-wire. An electrically driven pump simply replaces the engine driven hydraulic pump. There is still a mechanical connection between the driver and the tires and they can be steered even if all the electrics crap out.

        The problem is really one of failsafe positions. With throttle by wire, if the system detects a tremendous fault, they generally failsafe to some low throttle value, like 20% or so. You still have power to get off the road safely, but it is low enough that the brakes easily overpower the engine. Failure in the event of a lack of electricity is a non-issue because there won't be any ignition anyways.

        Brake by wire can be done semi-safely. Again, make the failsafe position a low, but manageable brake value. Enough to stop the vehicle but not so high that the engine can't overpower it. But two troubles come up. Unlikely is a failure of throttle and brakes at the same time. What do you failsafe to then? Do you immediately stop? What if the vehicle is in a place where it is unsafe to stop? Failsafing to moving at 10mph isn't much better either. In the event of electrical system failure, I suppose the system could be made to default to some low braking value, but the fact remains that a conventional brake system requires TWO hydraulic lines to rupture before all braking is lost and if the brake system is intact it will work even without a battery in the car.

        The big problem is steering. If the sensor in the column or the rack fails, what do you failsafe to? Straight ahead? Or does it veer slightly right? Even on straight roads, the driver rarely has the vehicle pointed EXACTLY straight (watch cars wander slightly left and right on the highway). Anywhere but the Oklahoma interstate and ANY fail"safe" position for steer by wire is going to be a BIG problem within 1/4 mile at the very best.

        The final nail for me is that electrical systems often fail without warning. *poof*fizz* it's broken. To break the steering linkage either requires a BIG hit or a gradual loosening over time. Both of which give the driver warning that the system needs inspection. Same with brakes. You'll get a mushy pedal, squealing pads, etc. Lots of warning. (it's not my fault that many drivers miss these warnings!)

        Sorry, no thanks.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've always thought we'd head in this direction eventually, but the one thing I've wondered is what it would feel like to drive a car where there's no direct feedback from the steering wheel. They could obviously add force feedback, like in video games, but that's added complexity and sure to be an expensive replacement part. Anyway, just curious what you all thought. I've asked this of some other companies which have worked on similar technology, but never gotten an answer.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Anybody else curious about what the "CARWINGS" button on the centre stack does? Maybe the extra space saved by all the x-by-wire systems is hiding some KITT-style attack mode monstrosity.
        • 7 Years Ago

        Its actually a fly-by-wire system borrowed from the Mitsubishi F-2. They discovered it was easier just to include retractable wings than to re-calibrate the system.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I have heard that many JDM vehicles have power folding side view mirrors for tight spaces?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Carwings is the name for Nissan's OnStar-like NAV/Entertainment system. It connects you to an operator 24x7 via BT cell connection, rather than SAT. It's been available since 2005. Nothing to do with this new drive-by-wire system.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is great news. If, of course, it never fails. I can't imagine having my steer-by-wire fail. That'd be some scary sh*t.
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