Nissan unveils the electric Silvia from the distant 1964

No one could ever resist such a challenge when Matthew Weaver, Vice President of Nissan Design Europe, was asked to redesign a car from Nissan’s history for an electric future, choosing to bring the iconic Silvia CSP311 to life.

Silvia is unique in its kind. It is a rare model launched in 1964, at the Tokyo Motor Show. In fact it’s so rare that even some of Nissan’s most experienced and old employees haven’t seen it.

New challenges
With electrification constantly gaining ground, most car designers face the challenge of “infusing” the legacy of their respective brands, while discovering what cars can and should be. Each drawing starts from a white paper. Then come sketches and many 2D drawings, followed by digital and three-dimensional clay prototypes. In the age of electric cars, designers can use the same techniques to come up with new ideas, but they can “play” with a whole new set of rules.

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Previously, designers had to work with engineers to find a way to accommodate an internal combustion engine, cooling/heating systems and exhaust. Now, these once basic components have been replaced by batteries, inverters and small motors. It’s a big change in a designer’s daily job, but also a huge opportunity to do things differently and provide a new experience for drivers.

Today’s designers need to think about the new functionality and the devices that bring it about it, such as radars, cameras and sensors. Car designers also need to find new ways to do the same thing they have always tried to achieve: create an emotional response and create a lasting connection with customers.

A smoother scroll
When we look at trends in the automotive industry, no one is better positioned in it than Marco Fioravanti, Vice President of Product Planning, at Nissan Europe. He and his team are tasked with looking into what customers will want and need in 20 years from now.

Looking further, who knows how customer requirements, technological advancements and legislation will affect design? What is certain is that cars are changing. They will look and work differently to be more user-friendly, energy efficient and practical. The “reappearance” of classic cars for the modern world of electromobility, even if they start only as sketches, proves that the future possibilities are endless.

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