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Designs on Nissan's future

Aggressive: Future Nissans will borrow bold, muscular themes from the GT-R.

Nissan is prepping a bold new design language from the GT-R, plus one for green cars

15 Jun 2007

NISSAN is preparing to introduce a fresh design language, according to Nissan Design Europe design director, Alfonso Albaisa.

"We are currently undergoing a new DNA," he told GoAuto. "We are looking at what is next." Mr Albaisa said it was time that the company introduced new design elements that would characterise a Nissan.

"When it starts to feel stale, you have to start a new...(and ask) what is the DNA? We have had this for seven years so there is a natural evolution." Mr Albaisa would not elaborate on the new Nissan design DNA under development, but did suggest the new GT-R super-coupe, to be revealed in final production form at the Tokyo motor show this October ahead of its Australian launch in early 2008, would give at least some hints.

"This type of boldness and a little more muscularity - these are some hints of what you are going to see in the future," he said.

The GT-R will be joined on the Nissan stage in Tokyo by a 'funky' design aimed a group of Japanese young people who are not traditionally interested in cars, but like overtly styled models like the boxy Cube model sold only in Japan.

"There is a whole generation that doesn't even like cars, but they need transport. They hunger for cars like the Cube, which to them, really wasn't trying to be a car," he said.

"So this type of segment shown with a GT-R, you will find that the kids staring at this little funky thing are going to be completely different to the people with gas in their veins and the love of the wonderful proportion and everything else, who are looking at a GT-R."

Nissan weighs up green-car options

NISSAN is wrestling with how to design a new generation of 'green' cars.

The Japanese car-maker is working towards a range of new environmentally friendly models and has just opened a new technology centre, which will work on plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles.

The new range of vehicles not only opens up several new packaging possibilities given the different powertrain systems, but also creates new challenges when it comes to designing the vehicle.

12 center imageLeft: Nissan Cube.

Toyota is enjoying great success with its Prius model which is very clearly a specifically-designed hybrid that is instantly recognizable as a 'green' model.

Other hybrid models that look just like a regular petrol model, like the Honda Civic sedan IMA, have not been as successful.

Nissan Europe designer Stephan Schwarz spoke to GoAuto about the new challenge of designing green cars and Toyota's policy of giving the Prius a unique 'green' look.

"Toyota has been very clever to do that," said Mr Schwarz.

"The car has been heavily criticized... they took a big risk. The car is polarizing. I know people who just can't stand this design, they think this is the ugliest car on earth. But what is clever is to not use the classic design language to highlight the hardware which is a different DNA," Mr Schwarz said.

He said Toyota identified that hybrid customers wanted to be seen to help the environment.

"I think everybody would like to buy an environmental political consciousness right? This is the obsession of the times, it's very new. It is a statement, reinforced by celebrity, the media and all that." Mr Schwarz indicated that Nissan could benefit from creating a 'green' design theme for all its environmentally friendly vehicles.

"I think design is about absorbing the mindset of our society and absolutely, why not translate the difference in the design execution? I think it has a lot of marketing potential." Mr Schwarz said the new types of powertrains would allow designers to alter the layout and packaging of cars and hinted one such vehicle concept has been developed at the Nissan Design Europe facility in London.

"We have had the oppourtunity to work on this type of product recently and you start to drift more into the product design (rather than car design) mindset, it is very creative and you begin to remove the petrol-head in you and think more about a clever product on wheels." Nissan Design Europe design director, Alfonso Albaisa, said Nissan was not ready to discuss its 'green' design direction publicly, but laid some hints about the company's plans.

"It will require some kind of innovation, in that we will have a new proportion - a new type of attitude for all cars," he said.

"For me this is potentially very interesting." Mr Albaisa said car-makers, including their designers, faced the challenge that customers wanted to be green, but also wanted features that were in complete contradiction.

"They want to help, but they are used to certain (levels of) luxury, size, speed and comfort. All these are hard to do in an eco-friendly vehicle," Mr Albaisa said.

He said Nissan would not dramatically change its design policy when it came to setting the tone for its 'green' models.

"People buy Nissans for a reason. We are a passionate company, you can feel the heart beating inside of it - that is our goal," he said.

"Our version of alternative fuels is bound to be different. Toyota is a very good company but it has some qualities that are quite different to Nissan."

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