So Nissan just held the world premiere of the all-new Ariya crossover.
The Ariya is the first of thirteen all-new or refreshed models that Nissan had promised they will launch over the next 18 (or 17 now) months, and it's probably the most important one: the Ariya is an all-electric crossover. That means it will be the EV SUV counterpart to the Nissan Leaf; historically the best selling electric vehicle, and is set to be launched in the Philippine market soon.
But perhaps the most striking thing about the Nissan Ariya is the design. For starters, the design is exceptionally faithful to the concept car that the brand released at last year's Tokyo Motor Show. And second, the vehicle looks very futuristic with clean lines and curves that are somewhat reminiscent of the designs of BMW's flame surfacing as pioneered by Chris Bangle.
For that, we got a bit of clarification from Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan Senior Vice President from their Global Design team, during a virtual meeting. He says that while Bangle is an inspiration for the generation of automotive designers that have now taken posts as chiefs in their respective car companies, the Ariya's design was really derived largely from the Japanese concept of “Ma”, otherwise known as the mastery of empty space.
Albaisa says they wanted a clean and functional look, and they achieved it with a good degree of minimalism. The EV powertrain also gave them some new design considerations, as there was no need for a big radiator grille, requiring no massive cutout for air on the front grill. That's quite interesting, especially in a vehicle that has 394 horsepower and a whopping 600 Nm of torque for the new e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive system, supposedly derived from the knowledge behind the GT-R.
What's most important is that the Ariya's primary design goal was to not evoke reality (especially today's difficult realities), but instead pique the imagination and dreams.
“We want to capture the imagination of the customer, not the reality of the customer,” said Albaisa.
The design head says that they were challenged with the interior too, and worked to create one that is very functional and very useful. They were also challenged by how Tesla designed the interior of their vehicles. That was particularly unusual because Nissan has, in past interviews we had, never regarded Tesla as a competitor; they never looked like Tesla as a car company but a tech company.
Of course, with the launch of the Ariya, that will undoubtedly change, as they are wading into crossover territory wherein the Tesla Model X is currently the popular player. Can Nissan overcome this hurdle? Time will tell, but from the looks of it, the EV SUV market is about to get very interesting with the presence of the Ariya.
By all indications, the Ariya may not be immediately launched in the Philippine market. But with the Leaf set to be launched here, the potential success of that model could very well lead to the introduction of Nissan's stunning new electric crossover.