The Italian design company Icona announced its debut at the 88th Geneva International Motor show, unveiling a worldwide premiere: the autonomous driving concept vehicle Icona Nucleus, powered by Elaphe in-wheel drive.

The concept Nucleus represents the synthesis of futurism and a human-centered mindset. With its fully autonomous driving level five, the Nucleus jumps two generations ahead. Inside the vehicle, the absence of a driver does not only mean the absence of a steering wheel and a dashboard, but the opportunity for a new understanding of mobile living spaces, where the focus is no longer the road but the journey.

Technology should be felt but not seen and so a “less is more approach” has been used, resulting in a fluid and sculptural body that combines the needs of both aerodynamics and ergonomics. Beyond its technological innovation, Nucleus also shows us the future for the next generation of cars.



Icona and Elaphe both believe that the transformation through different levels of vehicle autonomy and digitalization needs to be supported by a transformation in the underlying technology that performs the base functionality – the powertrain. In order to build the vehicle around the user’s needs, the powertrain should become virtually invisible to the user, with the focus instead on “the front-end functionality”.

The future-oriented Icona Nucleus uses the most forward-looking Elaphe in-wheel motor technology for its electric powertrain, with each wheel featuring the highest-performance production in-wheel motor in the world.

Headquartered in Slovenia, Elaphe is Europe’s leading in-wheel motor technology company. The Elaphe™ L1500 in-wheel motor is the brand’s highest-performance product, delivering 110kW of maximum power to each wheel and making its 1500Nm peak torque available to each wheel at all times. The four L1500 in-wheel motors on the Nucleus provide the stunning concept with a total of 440kW of wheel power (in the same range as the Lamborghini Huracan).

Not only does the in-wheel motor deliver superior performance without the technical complexities of a combustion engine, gears, transmissions, differential, driveshafts and other components, it allows designers more flexibility in space design (


Benefitting from this, the Icona Nucleus’ luxury interior design redefines the rules of people’s activities in the car – six comfortable seats can be seamlessly adjusted, or even joined into two large sofas; it also features a lamp, and a table, to allow passengers the freedom of choice between an office or leisure time. The passengers get to feel like if they are sitting in a luxurious living room, fully enjoying the graceful time on the road.

More about the ICONA Nucleus:

One car will replace several cars, and by nature will be an excellent place to be: its use and versatility will be directly reflected in the multiple possibilities of its interior design. Essential exterior design “A seamless gliding first class form of transportation” says Samuel Chuffart, Global Design Director of Icona. The mono-volume exterior is unlike any vehicle you have ever seen. The shape looks purposeful and beautiful. The profile and surfacing look as though the vehicle was shaped to move efficiently and quietly through the air. Being fully autonomous, there is no side glass in the traditional sense, rather semi-transparent bodycolor panels that allow the occupants to see out from the vehicle but remain shrouded for privacy while traveling.

The Icona Nucleus looks like a self-moving executive lounge, characterized by a long curvy side line which emphasizes the cell nature of the vehicle. Its slick aerodynamic design with full underbody diffuser and wheel arch aerodynamic blade extensions bring the CX to just under 0.25, a very good number that definitely helps its rolling resistance and energy consumption.

Now that all occupants are passengers, their interaction and the individuality of their personal space become a priority. The Nucleus can easily accommodate six people. Seats can be moved with flexibility, even transforming into a couch. One large seat in the front and one in the back make it as comfortable and cozy as a luxury living room. Nucleus reconsiders the way we access and live in our car, pushing the boundaries of interior space-driven design with an airplane-inspired interior simplified to its most pure form. No longer should we be compelled to sit in a line, with the windscreen and the road ahead as our only focus. With an asymmetrical approach and different seat designs and configurations, spending time together inside Nucleus means more freedom and flexibility; people enjoying their time together and configuring the space according to their mood and preferences that day.