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.