Concept to reality: the all-new Nissan Ariya electric crossover

In Concept to Reality, we take a look at the latest electric vehicles from the ABB FIA Formula E Championship's stable of leading manufacturers. Nissan has just launched its all-new Ariya, so now's the perfect time to dive into the story behind the design process of this cutting-edge electric crossover.

Nissan has just changed the electric car game again, with the unveiling of the Ariya - its all-new 100 percent electric crossover.

The Ariya is Nissan's next-generation electric car, following in the footsteps of the now-iconic, and groundbreaking, LEAF - the best-selling EV in automotive history.

The production Ariya faithfully follows the design and features of the concept that made waves at the 46th Tokyo Motor Show in 2019.

We're going to take a look at how the concept came to be, and what influenced program design director Giovanny Arroba - the project's mastermind.

Introducing the Nissan Ariya Concept

Nissan's Ariya embodies the company's Intelligent Mobility vision of personal transportation – one where electrification and vehicle intelligence will offer seamless and adaptive travel experiences free of accidents or harmful emissions.

With twin electric motors, powerful acceleration and award-winning driver assistance technology the Ariya is also a complete reinvention of Nissan's design.

"It started with our vision of how to shape the future," said Arroba, a 20-year Nissan veteran, and graduate from the ArtCenter College of Design, California.

"I wanted to merge form with the unique experience of an EV, and the autonomous and connected technology that Nissan Intelligent Mobility represents. The relatable attraction of the automobile as a dynamic object to be driven was essential for the concept.

"It was a multi-department effort including Design, Engineering, Product Planning and Marketing, all working closely together with a shared vision of our brand's future. Not to mention the countless artisans who built and programmed the concept from an idea into a physical reality.

"I don't think people realise just how many designers it takes or how diverse the expertise that’s required to design a car.

"There are many complexities as it is not a static product, but an integral part of an owner's life. We must ensure we give it personality that reflects its function and provides an overall lasting experience."

Arroba sees himself as "a part of Nissan", and just a small component in the huge team effort required to develop a vehicle fit to embody the company's philosophies.

That said, his "daydreaming" and design ideologies embody his work, and have shaped the Ariya from the ground-up, with striking looks that represent Nissan’s new design language, Timeless Japanese Futurism - characterized by a distinctive Japanese approach, conveyed in a simple, powerfully modern way.

"It's essential to keep an open mind, to keep daydreaming, to keep discovering," he adds. "I like balance. This is critical when composing model identities tailored to the customer.

"The balance of a sharp gesture with the flow of a surface that effortlessly surrounds the exterior, and in the interior around the driver and passenger.

"I take inspiration from fashion, architecture, toys, as well as music and film – both for the content as well as the way they are composed and directed. Designing a car is like creating a visual symphony as well as setting the scene for the customer’s journey.

"This is my pursuit and something that I hope can be seen whether it’s the Infiniti Essence Concept, IMs concept, the production Maxima or, of course, the Ariya.

"The design team, coming together from all around the world, is like an orchestra, and sometimes a session jazz band. We all play different instruments and bring to the “music” our own depths of artistic passion and inspirations.

"Together, we develop and combine our numerous layers of notes to compose our symphony. The Ariya is a global effort in that same way. Having a global team enriches our concept with a shared brand vision that’s music to the ears."

Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, and Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta, unveiled the Ariya to a global audience today (July 15) during a livestreamed event at the new Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama.

“The Nissan Ariya is a truly beautiful and remarkable car,” Gupta said. “It enables you to go further, easier and in comfort. The Ariya is designed to impress, and to express what Nissan strives for – making our customers’ lives better."

'A new level'

Building on Nissan’s strength as an EV pioneer, the Ariya takes the powerful performance and capabilities of zero-emission vehicles to a new level.

The car’s all-electric drivetrain combines excellent power delivery, charging capabilities and a range of up to 610 kilometers. Customers can choose from multiple configurations to meet their individual needs. These include two-wheel-drive and e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive versions, as well as two different battery sizes.

The e-4ORCE all-wheel control system balances the powerful performance with all-weather capability. The system’s twin electric motors provide a balanced, predictable ride, with sports car-level power delivered in the blink of an eye.

Advanced design and tech for 'stress-free' driving

Drivers will feel more confident and less stressed thanks to the ProPILOT 2.0 advanced driver assistance system and the ProPILOT Remote Park and e-Pedal features.

Also standard across the Ariya lineup is Nissan’s Safety Shield system. This includes Intelligent Around View Monitor, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking and Rear Automatic Emergency Braking technology.

An all-new human-machine interface lets customers use natural speech to adjust car settings. Over-the-air firmware updates keep the Ariya feeling fresh and exciting. The Ariya also includes Amazon’s Alexa to help customers simplify and organize their lives.

Spacious, flat-floor cabin

Nissan’s design team took advantage of the car’s new EV platform, which allows for a flat floor, and its compact climate control components to give the Ariya the most spacious cabin in its class.

The lounge-like interior, featuring Zero Gravity seats, provides a welcoming and comfortable environment for driver and passengers alike.

“The Ariya enhances driving excitement, ensures high levels of comfort and confidence and heightens the joy of connecting,” Gupta said. “It’s more than just a great EV crossover, it’s a great vehicle. It’s a true force of wonder.”

Dream first drive

Having seen "his" vehicle unveiled in the flesh, Giovanny Arroba has earmarked "home" as the first place he'd visit for a test drive. As a Southern Californian, there are plenty of jaw-dropping routes to sample.

"I grew up in Southern California, so I would love to drive it up the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) from Santa Barbara through Big Sur, Carmel and Monterey. Carving along the West Coast with the Pacific Ocean by my side would feel surreal," he said.

"On an extended vacation, touring around Spain and Portugal or Scotland's west coast and the Isle of Skye are high up on my list."

The all-new Nissan Ariya is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in mid-2021 and in Europe, North America and China by the end of 2021.