Lifestyle

Motoring: Nissan opens its doors to the future

NEWPORT BEACH, CA: Nissan and Infiniti laid all its new production and technology cards on the table at a worldwide conference held in southern California.

Called Nissan 360, it is the third such event since 1999 with Power 88 being at the core of the conference.

Power 88 is the mid-term business plan announced in June 2011 aiming at an eight per cent global market share and eight per cent operating margin by the end of the fiscal year 2016.

Over the month-long event that ends in mid-September, more than 1,000 media, investors, suppliers, dealers and industry experts were expected to attend seminars, previews and road testing of more than 100 vehicles Nissan and Infiniti sells around the globe, including the re-emergence of Datsun as the company’s new brand targeting entry-level markets.

At the media conference, the company announced plans to introduce 51 new or updated models around the world in the next eight years and it will reveal all-new models of its five top North American sellers over the the next 15 months.

Growth is key for Nissan/Infiniti and today it produces more cars and trucks in North and South American than it did worldwide in 1999.

Another part of the equation is Blue Citizenship with the ultimate goal of producing zero emission, zero fatality vehicles.

Nissan’s Leaf is the world’s largest selling all-electric car with more than 74,000 on the road. Nissan says the total emission-free miles covered would be more than three round trips from the Earth to the sun.

In terms of reducing fatalities, Nissan has set a goal of reducing the number of deaths in its cars by 50 per cent by 2015 and actually hit 55 per cent in 2010. Now the goal is reducing the remainder by another 50 per cent by 2020.

Over at Infiniti it was all about an unbridled assault on its premium luxury competition using new synergies and a bold attitude making them the “seductive provocateur” when it comes to attracting “young-minded” luxury buyers.

Infiniti started in North America, but is now sold in 50 countries around the world and that number is going to grow.

To do this, Infiniti will tailor its products to meet market expectations such as long wheelbase cars in China and a compact premium vehicle for Europe that will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

But perhaps the most fascinating part of the conference was Nissan’s vision of the longer term future as explained by Rachel Nguyen, director of Global Upstream Planning.

She said the aim is to produce vehicles that help give people freedom of mobility while letting them enjoy more time in a car.

It takes autonomous, self-driving cars to a higher level where they will be seen as more of a “valued assistant” than a mode of transportation.

It will usher in an age of more car sharing—an example being a taxi. You use your mobile device to hail the closest autonomous electric cab, get in and go to any desired location and do so with no emissions and no parking fees.

Then there is the We Lounge, a minivan-like electric vehicle in which a group of people on vacation can take a tour of the city or country while being connected anywhere in the world.

Nguyen said another challenge is to make future vehicles “more comfortable” to women who tend to see a car not as a product but as a tool.

“It’s a space they can live in,” she said.

Another demographic they’re aiming for is youth, who do not share the same love of their cars, as the older generations did. Youth, she said, want to be more involved which leads to a concept of “co-creation.”

This project has four Jim Robinson/contributor

The Datsun

brand has been re-launched and will build economical cars for entry-level markets. The Datsun GO is the first product from Datsun. components—Auto Couture (matching styling that reflects who they are), Hot Swap (where creative people come together and share ideas), Freestyle (where an open architecture vehicle can be customized anytime) and 5-Ten (for the technophiles who want to have a hands-on experience).

Nguyen said car companies can “wait until the future comes to them” or help decide the future for a generation where mobility is anything you want it to be.

 

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