June 15, 2012
Designing a Caravan
June 15 – Atsugi – Ahead of today’s launch of the new NV350 commercial vehicle, the Global Media Center caught up with Product Chief Designer Ryoichi Kuraoka. He explained how the twin aims of stability and modernity underpin Nissan’s newest light-commercial vehicle.
Q1. What was your philosophy when designing the NV350 Caravan?
NV350 Caravan Product Chief Designer (PCD) Ryoichi Kuraoka:
There are two points I considered when designing this car. They were to express stability and modernity in the design.
When designing the front, what I wanted to realize most was to give it a strong presence. Yet, thanks to the improvement in layout, the new model has similar proportions with its competitors.
Because its silhouette is very close to those of its rivals, I tried to express something daring and different in the design of the front. We introduced a distinctive motif to the front grille which features two vertical pillars called “Angled Strut.” Also, by combining the sharp headlamps with the grille, we realized a very distinctive design so everyone can see at a glance that this is an NV350.
Another feature of the front design is the plane curve. We designed the very rounded front end, by adding a large plane curve. As a result, the headlamp area is moved around 50mm further back compared with its competitor.
Q2. How about the view from the side and rear?
For the side view, we pursued a clean and simple design. Working together with engineers, we removed the drip channel on the roof side and, by introducing flush window glass, tried to make the design as uncluttered as possible.
For a character line on the body side, its previous model and the competitor’s model had long, continuous lines running from the front through to the rear, but the new model doesn’t follow that trend. Instead, the line is divided between the front and rear and by doing this, we tried to create a feeling of dynamic movement when viewed from the side. This is achieved by different shapes at the front and rear.
For the rear view, the rear door should be big and square so customers find it easy-to-load, but we tried to make it different from the competitors by its character lines. Also, we designed very attractive rear-combination lights. I hope our customers will like them.
Q3. Can you tell us about the color?
For the exterior, we developed a new paint color called “Tiger-Eye Brown” just for this model. For customers who want to use this vehicle for triple purposes — work, family and hobbies — it’s very important how we make the car look attractive. To do that, we developed this color which has depth and a sophisticated feel.
Q4. What about the interior?
For LCVs, the interior is very important because LCV drivers spend the majority of their day inside the car. Because of that, compared to passenger cars, I think that interior comfort is very important. I thought deeply about what the design should be within the limits of the regulations for this type of vehicle. I want customers to find it as roomy as possible and spend their time inside the vehicle in as much comfort as possible.
Just like the NV200, we changed the color on the upper area and the lower area of the instrumental panel to create a sense of breadth. The upper area is painted black and the lower area gray.
Also, to make the driver feel comfortable, we designed areas that can make contact with elbows or knees with as rounded a shape as possible to emphasize comfort. This is part of our efforts to realize a design that minimizes stress for the driver.
When designing the interior, we tried to create a feeling of solidity and high durability. By rounding plastic parts on the instrumental panel, we tried to express a substantial feel and chose a material for seat cloth that gives a sense of strength.
I hope customers will recognize from the design this model’s durability and that it can be a long-time partner.