The IDx concepts on the Nissan stand at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show are case studies. The first is a casual/lifestyle-focused vision, the IDx Freeflow. The second is IDx NISMO, an ultra-sporty model of the future that looks as if it came directly from a driving simulator.
IDx NISMO and IDx Freeflow show how Nissan is using new and innovative product development methods to meet the needs of younger customers who have novel, exciting ideas, and engage with them to build the cars they want.
The approach requires input from consumers. It was designed to appeal to ‘digital natives,’ the generation born after 1990, and includes their feedback in the creation process. Nissan thinks this approach could have real applications in the near future.
This co-creation activity led to the development of the two IDx concepts cars, each with their own unique identity.
IDx: A fresh start
Co-creation defines a new relationship between Nissan and its customers. The prefix Nissan gave to the two new concepts, IDx, reflects those ideals. ‘ID’ is the acronym taken from identification, and the ‘x’ is the variable representing the new values and dreams born through communication.
Engaging with members of the ‘digitally native’ generation created an opportunity to explore new insights and creative possibilities. The co-creation dialogue reached far and wide, from the basic framework of cars to the last details and finishing touches.
The design of the two IDx concepts incorporates digital natives’ direct expression of the ideal form of ultimate simplicity in a compact vehicle. It was as if they were given a clean, white canvas to come up with as many ideas as possible.
What Nissan derived from this communication was their desire for a basic, authentic configuration for a car. A car without legacy influences, based on the ideal proportions and straight stance of a simple three-box shaped car design. Thus, the IDx concepts share the same three-box approach, i.e. vehicles made up of three compartments – engine, passenger and cargo areas.
The IDx Freeflow reflects the sensibilities of its co-creators; the outlook of people who seek natural and tasteful things in every aspect of their daily lives.
The interior details of this four-passenger concept car are a carefully-selected mix of fashionable functionality and comfort in a design brimming with creative originality. It is meant to feel like a living room in which the owner and his or her friends can relax.
The round, no-nonsense steering wheel, attached to the level dashboard, mounts a modern-looking speedometer that would not seem out of place in a younger person’s lounge. Together with an analogue clock, prominently located above the central function monitors, the cumulative effect is an interior that feels heavily influenced by the wish for a cosy, relaxing space.
The car’s ‘floating roof’, a seamless rounded roof shape, is another design twist that accentuates the simple box form of the body.
The exterior colour is a sophisticated combination of white and flax (a light brown shade), invoking a casual feeling like that produced by the pairing of a white T-shirt with khaki chinos, and highlighted with silver accessories or a belt. The overall visual effect is completed by the addition of stylish 18-inch chrome wheels.
Many of the group of co-creators who were involved with IDx NISMO are people who grew up playing racing simulation games that feature cars of the past and from all corners of the globe. They had a natural desire to realise that virtual driving experience in a real car of their own.
Not limited to being inspired just by racing cars, IDx NISMO was born from a refined combination of the freedom to borrow liberally from memorable vehicles of yesteryear and the present, in addition to whatever was felt exudes ‘cool’.
Though IDx NISMO shares the overall length and height of its Freeflow cousin, the 1.8-metre width of the car is testament to its low, wide stance that emphasises its sporty proportions.
One of the hallmarks of box-type racecars is speediness conveyed by a reverse-slanted nose. On IDx NISMO, this frontal design element is embellished by an aura of seriousness communicated by the use of carbon panels.
Side mufflers provide a pleasing exhaust note.
Scanning the interior reveals racing-inspired crimson alcantra seat covers that entice the eyes, complemented by Spartan-looking meters and gauges that provide a race-car ambience. The lustrous metal surfaces contrast nicely with the bright red suede trim that is augmented by blue stitching.
That this car could result from co-creation dialogue alone exemplifies Nissan’s fresh approach to contemplating car design, and even kindles a fire in the hearts of people fond of the good old days of high-performance cars.