Nissan's green, autonomous car concept debuts at Tokyo Motor Show

Nissan debuted an autonomous electric car concept Wednesday at the Tokyo Motor Show. Some had speculated that it could be a preview of the next Nissan Leaf electric car. 

Shuji Kajiyama/AP
Carlos Ghosn, president and CEO of Nissan Motor Co., unveils the Nissan IDS Concept vehicle, which features self-driving and zero emission, in the media preview for the Tokyo Motor Show in Tokyo, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015.

As we head out to the Tokyo Motor Show, the teaser photos and previews are starting to come in thick and fast.

One from late last week was a shadowy image issued by Nissan of an autonomous electric concept car, which made its debut Tuesday night at 8 pm Eastern (or 9 am the next day in Tokyo).

At least one report suggested the concept will be a preview of the next Nissan Leaf electric car, scheduled to launch as a 2017 model.

But we're not so sure.

That report, from the British Autocar, quotes Nissan chief designer Shiro Nakamura, who told the magazine that it could expect to see "something at Tokyo regarding the next Leaf."

"This is likely to be it," the magazine concludes.

We know that Nissan has suggested that the second-generation Leaf will have more conventional looks than the distinctive and polarizing current car.

Some have suggested that the Nissan Sway concept car shown last spring may point to future Leaf styling directions, while others say that car is more likely the next Versa or Sentra small car.

The grille and headlights visible in the teaser shot are the latest Nissan front end that's being rolled out across all of its latest vehicles--including the recent Murano SUV and Maxima sedan.

But our sources suggest that while the second-generation Leaf will likely have that grille, it may well not look anything like the rest of the autonomous electric concept.

The next Leaf, they suggest, will be somewhat more conventional in appearance than the current generation, but does not look like what's visible in the teaser photo.

So far, Nissan has said of its concept only that it represents "the future vision of car intelligence and electrification.”

The next Leaf is expected to offer a range of battery sizes, with a top version providing a range competitive with the 200-mile 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV.

It is also likely to spawn more than one body style, perhaps up to four separate Leaf models, including a high-riding, crossover-like model.

Given a likely lifespan for the second-generation model extending through perhaps 2022, it's also likely to include far more autonomy features than today's Leaf.

Watch Green Car Reports for live reports from this week's Tokyo Motor Show media days as they happen.

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