Design

Nissan's design team shows what they're creating at home during the coronavirus lockdown

Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan's senior vice president for global design, gives a peek at his lockdown life and what he's sketching these days.

Photo courtesy of Nissan Motors

Every new car starts with a single line. Lines bend, curve, and connect whether you're drawing the new Nissan all-electric SUV your version of a fish for your wannabe marine biologist son in an effort to keep him busy during the extended COVID-19-related lockdown.

Nissan's design team has been busy during this time of social distancing, woking from home and creating sketches of possible new vehicles as well as drawing some of the vintage models in Nissan's lineup.

"To draw, draw, draw, in our world, is one of the best ways to close the gap between wonderful creative impulses in your head and making it a reality – especially as we face this global pandemic together," said Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan's senior vice president for global design. "Our team of designers, worldwide, are using this time to breathe, to draw, to dream creatively. I know that some of their best work will come from the challenges that we're facing now."

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Dubbed the #DrawDrawDraw effort, Albaisa is launching this campaign with a video from his home, and with input from his two young sons, showing what he is currently drawing and why. Designers from his team will post additional videos in coming weeks to talk about their design inspirations, what they are drawing, how they became car designers, and tips for those looking to break into the business.

"Our inspiration for this project came from Nissan designer Giovanny Arroba, the creative mind behind the recently unveiled Ariya Concept car," said Albaisa. "Gio was asked for advice on becoming a car designer. He said, simply and beautifully, 'Draw like crazy. Draw, draw, draw."

Nissan is now offering 23 downloadable coloring pages featuring the company's classic cars, current models, futuristic concepts. The company's designers from around the world created the pages over the last few weeks. Other automakers including Land Rover, Audi, and Ford have also made free coloring pages available.

Nissan is asking individuals to tag their drawings, from sidewalk art to napkin sketches to the downloaded coloring book pictures, with #drawdrawdraw.

"We're looking forward to celebrating passion and creativity," said Albaisa. "Don't be surprised if you see a Nissan designer comment on your drawings and artwork."

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

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Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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New luxury EV

Lexus announces all-electric RZ 450e

Lexus just announced the new RZ 450e

Lexus

Lexus and Toyota have finally jumped onto the EV train, and we’ll soon see new all-electric SUVs from both. The Lexus variant, named RZ 450e, features a reasonable range, upscale interior, and neat all-wheel drive technology. We don’t have firm pricing for the Lexus, but expect it to start in the mid-to-high $40,000 range.

2023 Lexus RZRange is expected to reach 225 miles per chage. Lexus

The RZ shares a platform and much of its underlying engineering with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but will take a more upscale approach. Though its size and overall shape are similar to the others, the Lexus’ exterior styling is sharper and sportier, with functional aerodynamic bodywork. A new Lexus logo is spelled out on the rear gate, instead of the traditional “L” of previous models.

The SUV comes with a 71.4-kWh battery that should deliver a range of around 225 miles on a charge. All-wheel drive is standard, and uses the RZ’s dual electric motors to shift power between the wheels that need it most.

Inside, the RZ features a minimalist, open space with controls meant to remind drivers of a horse’s reins. Ultrasuede upholstery and woodgrain trim come standard. Lexus notes the RZ’s head-up display is controllable via steering wheel-mounted buttons that handle navigation, audio, and other functions.

2023 Lexus RZThough similar to the Toyota bZ4X inside, the Lexus IS more upscale and minimalist. Lexus

Speaking of the steering wheel, the first RZs will be available with a round wheel only, but later on, Lexus will offer a yoke-style wheel like the one seen in the Toyota bZ4X concept and Tesla’s Plaid models.

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