X-by-wire technology, a feature that uses wires and electrical impulses to replace mechanical linkages for the control of major systems such as steering, braking and gear changes, has been used in the past by Mercedes-Benz and Toyota but has never really taken off because of safety concerns and the poor reliability of electronic systems as they cars age. As carmakers strive to find ways of reducing vehicle weight in light of tougher emissions and fuel-economy standards, engineers are once again developing the technology.

Nissan has now unveiled a new concept car based on its first-generation Murano SUV equipped with X-by-wire technology for the steering, braking and transmission. By replacing pumps, hoses, fluids, belts and brake boosters and master cylinders with electronic sensors and actuators, engineers were able to reduce the weight of the vehicle and free-up space inside for occupants. By-wire also allows the adoption of smaller steering wheels that require less steering input.

On the concept, engineers made it possible to add a third row of seating and capacity for seven passengers. In fact, the adoption of steer-by-wire and brake-by-wire systems resulted in an increase in interior length of 110mm more than the conventional model.

Nissan hasn’t said when the technology will be introduced to its production cars but given the benefits we suspect it won’t be too long.