Given the choice, being able to predict the future is one of the genuinely useful superpowers that an OEM could benefit from. While he would not claim to actually possess such an ability, it is pretty much what David Moss, the vice-president of vehicle design and development at Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE), is required to do.
“The challenge for me and my team,” he says, “is not about what we are trying to make today, rather it is about trying to work out what the customer wants tomorrow. A customer can tell you today what they do and do not like about a product, but what they cannot tell you is about what they do not know they will need in the future.”
Nissan has technical centres in Japan and the US as well as in Europe. Each has the aim of developing vehicles that meet the unique demands of the market it is based in. The NTCE has sites across the continent, in Cranfield in the UK, Barcelona in Spain, Brussels, Bonn in Germany, and Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia.
Moss has been with Nissan for 25 years. Working his way through the ranks, his time with the OEM has covered body design, benchmarking and cockpit design as well as the development of the Primera when he was based in Japan for a spell.
Now based at the UK site of NTCE, Moss is responsible for all aspects of vehicle design and development. He says: “It is not just about driving down any defects in the vehicles, it is all about whether we can absolutely hit the targets for quality that the customer would want in the next car in three to four years' time.
“That can start from something simple like how big, long or wide it should be, through to what kind of technologies does the car need. It is the job of the engineer to study trends and anticipate where the market will be in the future, when the vehicle is ready.”
The Cranfield site recently secured investment of €138 million towards developing the next-generation Juke, but Moss explains that his team of more than 1,000 engineers has already been working on replacing Nissan's very successful small SUV for some time. While the OEM's style studio in London is responsible for how the next model looks, the clever people at NTCE have been working out how to make the vehicle better than the first version and answering the question of what technologies should go in it.
|tags:||October 2015 Nissan|