The creation and promotion of a powerful brand image was Step One in Nissan’s programme for the relaunch and revival of its entire design operation. That programme goes hand-in-hand with the Nissan Revival Plan announced by new Chairman Carlos Ghosn at the 1999 Tokyo Show.

The eight concept cars presented at this year’s show demonstrate how busy the Nissan design team has been under Shiro Nakamura over the past two years. One of those prototypes, which actually made its debut at the Frankfurt Show in September,is the Crossbow, a boxy-looking SUV with a refined high-tech interior that is expected to replace the Safari/Patrol.

Another is the mm, a compact Segment B hatchback that previews the shape of the next Micra/March. That too was seen at Frankfurt but in an earlier version that had less in common with the future production model.

Nissan adopted the same step-by-step preview approach with the Fairlady Z. This evolution of the Z prototype unveiled at the Detroit Show in January 2001 was presented in Tokyo in more or less its final form. Together with another Nissan concept, the GT-R, the Z, represents one cornerstone of the company’s campaign to revitalise its brand identity: the concept of fun driving.

The second pillar of that campaign is computerisation and the extension of telematic applications to every imaginable vehicle function. That banner is being carried primarily by the Ideo concept car.

The array of prototypes on display in Tokyo is completed by the Kino, an MPV that houses an adaptable living room on wheels, the Nails, a pick-up created by a team of Nissan’s younger designers, and the Moko, a microcar with a 660 cc engine developed in partnership with Suzuki and ready now to make its market debut.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 131

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