In conversation with Kei Kyu, Future Design Director, Nissan Motor Corporation

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Kei Kyu Nissan - Topgear Magazine Online
Kei Kyu, Future Design Director, Nissan Motor Corporation. (Image: Nissan)

TopGear India: First and foremost, what is the most basic yet fundamental design element for the Nissan Magnite concept? What’s the first thing that will catch a customer’s eye according to you?

Kei Kyu: The NISSAN Magnite concept is the true spirit of ‘India on wheels’, thus it focuses on not one but three fundamental design elements, namely Kabuku, Sui and Inase. Kabuku represents a pioneer and game-changer, Sui stands for purity of purpose and Inase denotes dynamic and vibrant energy.

NISSAN Magnite concepts’ dynamic silhouette and bold stance will catch the customer’s eye. As an example, in the portion from the hood to the end of the beltline, the B-SUV exudes sturdiness, agility and confidence. Its presence is such that it will be easily spotted as it stands out amongst the crowded and bustling streets. 

TG India: Do you have any other vehicles planned for India anytime soon? Also, will there be more vehicles based on the Magnite platform in India and abroad?

Kei Kyu: At present our focus will be on the NISSAN Magnite concept, as it is a B-SUV which will be made in India and made for the world. 

TG India: Do you think the Magnite will be a blend of Japanese and Indian tastes coming together? Or do you see it as more ‘Indian’ product, so to speak?

Kei Kyu: When we create something, our primary objective is to understand the customers. We need to feel who our customers are, what’s the mood and the atmosphere of a country, how people are behaving – what are the new trends and fashions, through experience. This is the starting point of design – discovering what people expect. We strongly believe that design is a gift for the customers; it’s not a commodity.

As a Japanese OEM, we need to express Japanese sense on our product, in the same time our core customer and market are in India. So blending Japanese philosophy and Indian culture and attitude together, we formed an ‘Indian’ product. The NISSAN Magnite concept isn’t merely a product that will be made in India, it has been designed in Japan keeping in mind requirements of the Indian market. The teams in Japan have worked very closely with India team for local insights which has helped us in formulating our offering for the market.  The B-SUV is the perfect blend of cultures that merges the design capabilities and insights of both countries.

TG India: Have the Japanese values of Kabuku, Sui and Inase been used in other Nissan vehicles as well? Or would this be a first?

Kei Kyu: In India, this is first time we used Japanese values for NISSAN Magnite concept. Some of these Japanese values are used on the Ariya EV as well, such as Kabuku, Sei, Ma, Iki, Utsuroi. Introducing these 5 values into the NISSAN Magnite Concpet did not happen as the background is very different for both the cars in terms of segment, powertrain, market and people. 

Kabuku, Sui, Inase reflects on NISSAN Magnite concept to express the attitude of Indian market and people through our Japanese sense of culture and aesthetics those are unique for NISSAN Magnite concept as this principle. Kabuku represents a pioneer and game-changer, Sui stands for purity of purpose and Inase denotes dynamic and vibrant energy.

TG India: The Magnite will have some stiff competition from other manufacturers in India, how do you see it standing out from the rest in terms of design?

Kei Kyu: Indian buyers are smart buyers as they are willing to pay but they don’t pay for everything. So they actually define what is worth it and what is not. We really need to prioritize what is good for the Indian market, and what is not. For us, expressive styling is a very appealing factor and also, the lamp character is very important. The interior, space, especially the rear space is very important for the Indian market. It is so important that we balance it with expressive styling.

When we began working on the NISSAN Magnite concept, we aimed for it to not only feel premium and stylish, but also for it to be the most spacious B-SUV in its segment. It was a long journey, as doing so also meant we would lose out on certain other features; but we made it work. The NISSAN Magnite concept encompasses three major features that give the B-SUV its spacious interiors: high command eye position, huge ‘couple distance’ (distance between the driver & side passenger) and lastly, a “once class above” knee room for passengers in the rear seat.

From Exterior point of view, Dynamic proportion and stance is the core. In a Sub 4 compact dimension NISSAN Magnite Concept has very strong presence, ‘imposing SUV proportion in Dynamic silhouette’’. It is the innovation of the fusion of SUV authenticity and agile silhouette. 

Exterior styling works well to emphasis SUV strength on the proportion for Confidence and Sturdiness. But also, clear 3 volume construction (fenders and solid mono body) gives uplifting, and vibrant energy on the sculpture. From the Interior point of view, the packaging works together with proportion where roominess is the key element.

Indian customers are quite well informed and often check the latest world car designs. They are interested in owning a car which is quite advanced in terms of technology and features. So we have used these insights and made it appear as sleek head lamps, DTRL on exterior, screens on the dashboard.

TG India: Will be seeing future Nissan products in India following the same design philosophy as the Magnite concept?

Kei Kyu: We want to emerge as a more progressive brand for sure. What will distinguish Nissan from any other brand, is that we will have a lot more focus on customers. Because normally, we make a car, we design it and we give it to the customer. But through the NISSAN Magnite concept, we want to have the customer at the front and really understand him/her. We want to try to deliver the best product and exactly what customers want. This way we can create a nice story for the customer and then we deliver the car at the end.