Most SUVs are about as eco-friendly as napalm. They're designed for belching airborne lung disease into cyclists' faces and ferrying rich kids to private school -- but not the zero-emissions Terra concept from Nissan.
The Juke-sized Terra idea was spawned from the knowledge gained during research and development of Nissan's SUV and electric products. Unlike the battery-electric Leaf, however, Nissan imagines this odd-looking crossover will draw power from a hydrogen fuel cell – the company's 'new frontier' in zero-emissions motoring.
Use of a hydrogen fuel cell would allow the Terra to fit in almost everywhere it went. Four-wheel drive would enable it to cross pretty much any terrain (hillocks, commons, a sea of mangled bicycles etc.) while a total absence of tailpipe emissions means it'd be perfect for city life, too.
Physically, the Terra wouldn't look out of place on the surface of an alien planet, yet it sports a quite a practical design for life on Earth. Suicide doors, the likes of which you find on the Mazda RX8, would make it easy for passengers to get in or out of, thanks mainly to the lack of a b-pillar getting in the way.
Inside it's gorgeous, especially the dashboard, which features organic-looking curves hewn from metal and wood. Rather than incorporating a traditional instrument cluster, Nissan supplies a tablet, which can be docked when you enter the car and removed when you leave. This sizable touchscreen displays your speed, fuel level and navigation information but it also doubles as an entertainment hub. Here's hoping it'll let you play Angry Birds while you're stuck in traffic.
The Terra's driving position is almost central, McLaren F1 style, which Nissan says gives you a “fresh, enlightened perspective” of the road ahead (though you may find it tricky judging how close you are to the curb). This odd layout does, however, allow rear passengers to view the road ahead rather than the back of your head rest.
At this stage, the Terra is unlikely to make it off its rotating podium, but don't be surprised to see something inspired by this outlandish concept cruising down your local high street in years to come. Nissan has been working on fuel cell technology since 1996 and knows a thing or two about helping create infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles. If there's one company mental enough to take the plunge on a fuel cell SUV then surely Nissan is it.
Check out the images below and let us know what you think.