Nissan redefines its brand with new concept
Nissan unveiled its Ariya Concept, a crossover EV with twin electric motors, that the company says "signals the dawn of a new era for Nissan as the company embarks to redefine its brand philosophy for the next evolutionary phase of the automobile." According to Nissan, the Ariya Concept represents an entirely new design direction for the company.
The Ariya Concept features a spacious cabin with high-tech features and a body intended to convey "the pure, clean nature of electric cars." It expands on design elements first hinted at by the Nissan IMx concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. They include the electrified V-motion signature "shield" and rear light blade, short overhangs, and an interior that's intended to feel more like a lounge than a conventional vehicle. The company says that the crossover EV's styling and interior and exterior elements could make it into production in the near future.
"The Ariya Concept represents a strong collaboration between design and engineering," said Yasuhiro Yamauchi, Representative Executive Officer, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. "It is the next stage of Nissan's future design language as we embark on a new era for the company—the next stage in our evolution."
Characterized by the concepts "sleek," "seamless" and "sexy," the Nissan Ariya Concept features examples of this new design language throughout the exterior, including wide front fenders, super-thin LED headlights, as well as the front shield (typically a grille on a gasoline-powered vehicle) which is emblazoned with a bespoke, illuminated Nissan emblem. The shield incorporates a subtle geometric pattern that reveals itself when the electrified V-motion signature is illuminated.
"We replaced the conventional grille with what we call a 'shield'—an expressive piece with innovative 3-D texture within that goes beyond cosmetics, but also as a way to highlight the technology lurking within the vehicle," said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan's Senior Vice President of Global Design. "In this case, it's a radar sensor and other technologies that help the Ariya Concept read the road and visualize things the driver can't see."
Highlighting the vehicle's profile are five-blade, 21-inch aluminum wheels with custom tires along with a low, sleek roofline. The styling of the Ariya Concept's rear is also a departure from traditional SUVs, with a steeply raked C-pillar that blends into the rear deck. A one-piece light blade with blacked-out lenses runs across the width of the body. Rear fender flares and a high-mounted rear wing are intended to suggest the vehicle's power.
"The exterior strikes a balance between dynamic beauty and 'tech sharpness,' with proportions that show what's possible with Nissan's 100% electric vehicle platform," Albaisa said. "The surprisingly short overhangs, large cabin, large wheels, and tailored two-tone paint scheme provide an elegant appearance that balances sport and luxury."
The Ariya Concept's Suisei Blue paint scheme creates a dual appearance, depending on the distance viewed. From afar, the deep blue color takes on a matte-like finish. Upon closer inspection, large embedded glass flakes produce billions of light refractions, reminiscent of a comet crossing the night sky.
Accenting the Ariya Concept's roofline and wheels is a new signature color for future Nissan EVs: copper. Using the color of the sun as it breaks through the night to start a new day is meant to symbolize "the dawn of a new automotive era" while also giving a nod to traditional Japanese artisans who formed copper into works of functional art.
While the Ariya Concept's exterior mainly expresses the ideas of "sleek" and "sexy," the interior reflects a notion of seamlessness—represented by the integration of technology with daily life and the precise nature of Japanese craftsmanship.
"With a flat floor—made possible by the battery pack layout and absence of an internal combustion engine—the Ariya Concept welcomes occupants as they step in the cabin with a feeling of expansion and openness," said Albaisa. "Panels blend naturally into each other and flow seamlessly from the front, sides and rear, giving a panoramic impression from any seat position."
The minimalist dashboard is "uncluttered" by the buttons and switches found in conventional vehicles. Instead, the Ariya Concept uses integrated haptic touch controls along the instrument panel that "come to life with a glow" when the vehicle is active. When the car is not in use, they disappear into the surface. The only physical controls are the start button, a single knob to operate the 12.3-inch display monitor, and the climate controls, which are ingrained into the instrument panel's genuine-wood lower section. The instrument panel transitions into the doors and interior elements, to be out of sight when not in use.
The Ariya Concept's seats feature a super-thin frame to provide even more free interior space and enhanced visibility. The front and rear seats are positioned to ensure that everyone has a great view of the surroundings and offer a sensation "reminiscent of floating on a magic carpet." To make long drives more comfortable, the seat back and seat bottoms feature perforated leather upholstery, with material concentration where the occupant's lower back and hip touch. A copper fabric under the perforation was added for beauty and depth.
Throughout the cabin, interior materials were selected to give an impression of solidness, technology, and utility. Black synthetic leather covers the instrument panel and inner door panels. A different grade of synthetic leather with a textured grain lines the A-pillar and ceiling. This is intended to provide a subtle visual contrast. Satin copper-colored aluminum accents, incorporated into the instrument panel, seats, and steering wheel, were added to create a sense of unity with the exterior color.
Nissan designed the Ariya Concept to embody the three pillars of Nissan Intelligent Mobility: Intelligent Driving, Intelligent Power, and Intelligent Integration.
The Ariya Concept features the latest version of Nissan's driver assistance system, ProPILOT 2.0. The system combines navigated highway driving with hands-off single-lane driving capabilities. By engaging the vehicle's navigation system to help maneuver the car on a predefined route on designated roads, the system can assist the driver with passing, lane diversions, and lane exiting on multi-lane highways.
ProPILOT 2.0 also enables hands-off driving while cruising in a given lane. When approaching a road diversion or preparing to pass another vehicle, the system judges the appropriate timing of branching off or passing based on information from the navigation system and 360-degree sensing.
The driver receives audio and visual guidance and is prompted to put both hands on the steering wheel and confirm the start of these operations via a switch. When driving with ProPILOT 2.0 engaged, the interior lighting changes colors to signal that hands-off driving is enabled.
Built with a 100% electric drive system, the concept delivers instant torque to all four wheels from a dual front/rear motor drive configuration for balanced, predictable power. It is designed to offer excellent cornering performance and traction on slippery surfaces such as snow and loose dirt, without drivers needing to change their driving style, steering input or even pedal position. It accomplishes this thanks to the high-power, twin-motor, all-wheel control system. Engineers created this new system to manage the EV's power delivery and brakes automatically with the aim of ensuring smooth passage with minimal tire slippage.
Among the human-machine interface features is Door to Door Navigation, which allows anyone to set a destination on their smartphone, transfer it to the Ariya Concept and have the vehicle's navigation system continue offering directions. If the final destination is reached by foot, the system will transfer the remaining route back to the driver's smartphone.
When approaching the Ariya Concept, the driver is greeted with a welcome light as the vehicle unlocks automatically. Even before getting inside, settings such as the driver's seat position and climate controls are adjusted to the driver's personal preferences, which the driver can save to a smartphone as a unique profile. The car can sync with the driver's schedule to anticipate departure times and prepare the vehicle to be climate-controlled and ready to hit the road—maximizing driving range by using grid power to heat or cool the car. Once the driver is inside, the Virtual Personal Assistant can help look up information and locate parking. While traveling, the Nissan Ariya Concept's Smart Route Planner automatically identifies and plots charging stops along the way. Also, an integrated video chat feature can help confirm trip details with others on the journey before setting off. It can also link with their smartphones and the Ariya Concept's center information display to show their exact location. Upon arrival at their destination, drivers can use a smartphone or dedicated device to park the car automatically from a nearby location with ProPILOT Remote Park.
When parked at the office or home, the Ariya Concept supports Nissan Energy technology. The technology makes it possible to connect with energy systems to charge the EV battery, power homes and businesses, and even selling energy back to the power grid.
Power storage management allows for long-distance driving. When it's time to charge, the Ariya Concept uses CHAdeMO quick charging to energize the battery. The charging port unlocks upon the driver's approach and uses distinct colors to show the vehicle's charge status at a glance.
Firmware Over The Air (FOTA) technology provides updates for the navigation system, graphic user interface, and driving characteristics.
"Nissan has a clear vision of global mobility. The Ariya Concept is just the beginning, as Nissan considers how design, packaging and driver enjoyment can be transformed through the architecture of new EV platforms," said Yamauchi. "The Ariya Concept is not a concept car designed from far off ideas, but rather a car that embodies Nissan Intelligent Mobility at its core and highlights a promise of an entirely new driving experience on the horizon."