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Old 28th September 2015, 09:28   #1
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Default Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan

We all love cars, most of us love to drive cars, and then some of us like to know more about cars - the science and engineering behind these metal machines. For me, the engineering is as attractive (sometimes more) than the actual drive.

So, when Nissan and Datsun extended an invite to Team-BHP for a visit to Japan, and that too to their technical facilities, I had to say YES!

Add to this, there would be an opportunity to interact with a few of the top bosses of the company, and key people from the design and engineering facilities that we would be visiting. So, the month of August went in sorting out the documentation, and by the last week, I could be best described as "the excited school boy ready for his field trip week”.

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September 1 – on a rainy evening, we landed at Narita Airport to proceed to Yokohama, which would be our base for the next few days.

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-narita.jpg

Apart from the usual info that one might read about the beautiful city of Yokohama, it is also the global headquarters of the Nissan Motor Company. And the name Nissan sometimes reminds us of Renault too, due to the nature of the partnership that is there in India between them, even sharing the same manufacturing facility in Chennai. But in reality, the real sibling, rather the company that is a part of the same conglomerate is Datsun. It is also the older of the two. There is quite a bit of history here that I will cover later.

The Japanese way of planning is known to people working in the IT & manufacturing fields, and the same thoroughness had gone into designing the Project Plan – Indian Online Media Visit (IOMV) 2015 .

Day 1 started with a visit to a little known Heritage Collection Museum that the company has created in their plant at Zama. The humble lobby (later we came to know this was NOT the actual collection) had a few EVs and some famous models from their stable on display. Apart from this, they had a display of EV vehicle components, which are now produced in this facility. So we went clicking to cover as much as possible before the presentation.

The welcome lobby of the heritage center.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-nhmlobby.jpg

One of the pristine Fairlady S31 models on display.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150902_datsun_india7117.jpg

The Leaf EV with a NISMO touch.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150902_datsun_india7129.jpg

The battery pack that goes inside the EV.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-evbatterypackcontrolmodules.jpg

The Skyline GTR 1973, isn't she a looker?
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-1.jpg

The Sunny, Cherry and 520 on display.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-2.jpg

Full race spec March in all its glory.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-3.jpg

This is a scientific display piece, you can pedal the cycle to charge the battery pack.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-4.jpg

Close up of the battery pack.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-6.jpg

The Museum is covered in detail toward the end of this report.

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 10:01.
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Old 28th September 2015, 09:29   #2
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Day 1 - 2nd Half. Nissan Motor Companys Global Design Headquarters.

We were forewarned that this is a top security facility and once we enter the huge tunnel that leads into an absolutely stunning facility amidst true nature, we will not be allowed to shoot any pictures. We were even instructed to deposit our smartphones with cameras in designated lockers. In this world of cut-throat competition, one can easily understand why an organization is so careful about letting in outsiders into such a facility. Even within the facility, the access levels are tightly controlled and the employees of Nissan have limited access to different areas. Nissan Motor Company's Global Design Headquarters is located within a green campus in the city of Atsugi, Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo. It is a part of the Nissan Technical Center. Originally, Nissan's design team was founded as a modelling department in Yokohama, Kanagawa, in 1954. In 1982, it was integrated with another studio in Tokyo and moved to Atsugi.

The current facility was inaugurated in December 2006. Its completion was part of a comprehensive program that Nissan undertook in 2001 to enhance and expand its global design facilities. It now serves as the central hub for the companys design activities.

A Google map view.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-nissantechcenter.jpg

Headquarters actual image shared by Nissan.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-design_center01.jpg

An interesting message from the company - they have made smoking very restricted inside all the facilities to encourage people to lead a healthier lifestyle. Only in designated areas are people allowed to smoke, and for employees it is "strictly out of the core work hours".

After a quick lunch, the second half of the Day 1 agenda begins.

We start with a presentation on the ideology and thought process that goes on behind the scenes. In a nutshell, how a product is identified from the market needs, then made into a concept, design, production and finally taking customer feedback, which is then looped back into improving the product. The example used was that of the Datsun Go, since it would be something the Indian media would be easily able to identify with. Sessions were handled by the senior folks of the Datsun design team.

Koji Nagano, Executive Design Director for Datsun, Vice President of Nissan Design Europe, and General Manager of the Global Design Strategy Department.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-kojinagano.jpg

After a brief Q&A session, we are guided towards the colour technology center. There is a dedicated department in here! The colour that you see on a product is not some random shade that the designers decide on. There is actual science as well as detailed study of the target culture, market, etc. involved before these shades are frozen for a new model. In fact, the light blue shade of the Datsun Go was intentionally chosen to stir up the Indian conservative psyche towards car colours. Stats show that it actually worked, with the shade selling almost as well as other solid and darker shades which are hot sellers in our market. Speaking in general terms, majority of the Indian continent prefers solid and lighter shades, and then a minority picks those bright reds that you see on the roads. Oh... and blue is thought of as a "girly shade?!" by customers walking into showrooms. Data of colour / shade sales is apparently shared by the paint manufacturers and from there, the statistics and trends are arrived at for each continent.

Even the interior colours are carefully selected, so as to give the right ambiance to a car. Beige is generally considered premium in our markets and black as utilitarian. This is not the case in other continents, say Europe, where black is considered upmarket.

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-paintandcolor.jpg

Next, we moved to the digital designs department. This is where the new designs are given life as drawings and models. They have a dedicated team of digital designers who convert all the lines and curves into digital models. Another team specializes in making clay models. Though the era of 3D printing has come, these traditional clay models offer rework flexibility, while bringing up the concepts to life. Multiple scale models, as well as full size models are made before a final design is frozen. It was interesting to note that even "paint wraps" are done on these clay models to make them as close as possible to the real thing.

The clay modelling team demonstrating how it is done.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-claymodel.jpg

And these are the tools that they use.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-claymodeltool.jpg

This is where we got a glimpse of the Redi-Go concept and let me tell you, this one is a decent looker! Even if they retain 70-80% of the current concept, and package it with a good engine, interior specs, etc., it has potential. Unfortunately, no scoops to break on this one, since the company is tight-lipped about its plans.

Redi Go! Concept full size.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-redigo1.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-redigo2.jpg

I was given some time to freely interact with the senior folks from all the 3 teams and with that, our Day 1 visit came to an end. In the evening, we had a chance to again informally mix with the senior folks and with Vincent Cobee, the Global Head of Datsun. Further, we would have a formal round table with Vincent on Day 2. More on that later.

Media team playing around with the warm clay and colour wraps.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-indianmediaplay.jpg

Pictures credit: Nissan official photographer

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 09:35.
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Old 28th September 2015, 09:29   #3
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Day 2 - First half visit - Global Production Engineering Center

This division was originally the truck production line, which was running in 1964 and later, went on to produce the Sunny. In 2007, once the main production units moved out, GPEC was set up here in Zama. Apart from GPEC, the Zama plant also produces EVs, and has a battery plant within the facility.

So what does GPEC do in simple terms?

Once the design is finalized, it is GPEC that converts it into actual production. It is the global base, where test production happens; any issues identified are ironed out in order to enable smooth production runs in other factories across continents.

You might think, what is so special about this? Not only does the process of production and testing of the actual products happen here, even the machines, robots, software configurations, assembly line configuration, external vendor parts testing, production of dies for plastic trims and much more is done at this one centralized location. Products are run through a zillion tests and fine-tuned before being rolled out. Additionally, training is conducted for personnel from other locations worldwide.

It all starts with the digital phase, where design and testing of the product is simulated digitally. Then it goes on to do a complete "digital" production run. Imagine each and every step of the manufacturing process being replicated digitally to be fine-tuned. It is as complex as it gets!

From the design phase, the process now moves on to physical trials. The important ingredient here is the master machine, these are mega production lines that can be configured for production of multiple models. Each line would have thousands of parts that need to be assembled, so for each of this (equipment / tool / jig usage), torquing strength, stage height or height at which each machine is set etc. has to be finalized. There are 17 sites all over the world and 24 lines that can be configured, based on the inputs given from this GPEC line. Both automated as well as manual master machine (production lines) are there. In fact, India has a manual one. Another interesting thing is, each of these lines can manage 3-4 different models to be produced at the same time. And these can be configured based on the inputs from GPEC.

First, the whole assembly line is configured for the production of a particular model, and then the actual prototype is made on this line. Yes, a full-fledged car! So, if there is a dependency on a local vendor providing a particular trim, it has to be replicated. Even vendor parts are flown into this facility before being finalized. QC checks for these parts are also done here, centrally. 3D-based measurements are taken of the final product rolling off these lines to ensure that tightest tolerance levels are maintained.

There are machines to simulate road conditions, temperature varying from -30 to +60 degrees centigrade and about 25,000 miles of usage without stepping out of that 4-post vibration testing machine! And all it takes is about 4.5 days. Rainfall testing of up to 2,000 ml in 3 minutes is also part of the QC check (no wonder we don't seem to get many scoop shots of cars from this manufacturer on the road) .

Depending on the model, about 80-100 vehicles of a new design are made go through the whole process to ensure that quality is satisfactory. Even the quality process is defined at GPEC, which means, there is no difference in processes between factories in country A and B for a particular model.

The final step involves training the personnel, who are flown in from across continents to undergo detailed product-specific training. This training is image-based, so that it is easier to identify a particular sequence clearly. Each and every step is video-recorded for easy understanding and later reference. It was very interesting to watch one such video, where a rainwater trim under the windshield was being fitted!

What does all this achieve in the end?

- Short roll out time for production to other facilities - as short as 6 months for a new model to be rolled out at multiple production locations.
- No need for "trial production runs" across these factories, which further cuts down time.
- Almost zero workability and operational errors.
- Smooth hand off between mother and child production units.
- All 4 Ms (material, machine, man & methods) are standardized across these locations resulting in very high consistency when it comes to the product quality.

All these learnings are stored and looped back into the next model, which helps in constantly improving the process and further cutting down time. The Indian Micra is an example, part of the roll out happened in multiple markets under very short timelines.

Day 2 - Afternoon session with Vincent Cobee.

Quote:
Who is Vincent Cobee?

As the Head of Datsun, Vincent is dedicated to the return of the Datsun brand to the global market.
In this role, Vincent leads teams in Japan and high-growth markets, including India, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa and is focused on the development, manufacturing and marketing of Datsun cars.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-vincentc.jpg
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We had about an hour's round table interaction with Vincent that afternoon. Some highlights of the conversation that we had with him.

- Datsun as a brand, he felt, was taking more time than expected to ramp up. "Communication message" might not be strong enough, was what he felt

- Geographically, now there are about 200 points that Datsun covers

- Some of the value adds being provided include mobile service for remote locations (I remember Honda providing this in my hometown a decade back)

- One initiative being rolled out is to improve driving skills in South Africa, where Datsun trains drivers (including usage of simulators). The price of the products includes the cost of training and getting licenses for the drivers

- Production bases in countries like India, South Africa and Russia are used to cater to the needs of neighbouring countries as well e.g. Nepal being serviced from India

- The key differentiator for Datsun as a brand, is to have the lowest cost when it comes to total ownership experience. This will include price, finance, insurance, fuel efficiency and maintenance

- AMT is a subject that he was very keen on. Good news?

- Alternate fuels especially CNG would encourage conversions rather than factory install, and obviously he is also amused at the usual diesel vs petrol debate. He cautioned us that future pollution norms will make diesel engines rather expensive

- 2016 - there is a new launch being planned. Ready Go?

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 09:34.
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Old 28th September 2015, 09:29   #4
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Day 3 Visit to Nissan's engine plant and NISMO

Our day began with a visit to the Nissan's manufacturing facility in Yokohama. We arrived at a heritage building - later we are told that this was the headquarters of Nissan originally. Now, the same building has been converted into a museum. In this building, they have even retained one particular section with the original interiors! The building and its contents are known as "Nissan Treasures".

The old headquarters building. Notice employee EVs being charged around.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3717.jpg

Yes, even the wooden floor panelling is OE from 1934!!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150904_nissan_india_media_yokohama0371.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150904_nissan_india_media_yokohama0359.jpg

Staircase railings as well
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3757.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3758.jpg

We were given a brief presentation on Nissan's history, but with little more emphasis on the engine plant where we are at.

- The plant celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2013

- There are about 1,700 people working in this plant and it is spread over an area of about 5,40,000 square meters

- Right now, 5 million engines are being sold, with 5 plants based in Japan itself

- Out of the 4.41 million engines produced, about 4,70,000 were made here in Yokohama

- The interesting part is that about 70% of the total engine production happens outside Japan! USA has the largest production numbers percentage wise

- The Yokohama plant also produces hybrid engines with outputs ranging from 30-70 kW

- Since the plant is located right next to the bay, they have a Tsunami emergency area on top of certain buildings, where people can gather and be rescued

The museum also displays a few of the important models from the brand and various engines that have been used over the years.

Scale model exhibit of the building.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3646.jpg

Pictures preserved from archive, notice Indians? It is from the Singapore operations.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3648.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3647.jpg

What a restoration! Look at the products...am sure it looks better than when it was originally built.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150904_nissan_india_media_yokohama7455.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3756.jpg

Collage of engine collections on display.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-engine1.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-engine2.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-engine3.jpg

These are race spec - look at the twin turbos and the plumbing.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-engine4.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-engine5.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-engine6.jpg

Few "exploded views" of engine internals and a cross section of the car, which explains the workings of various parts.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150904_nissan_india_media_yokohama7478.jpg

Engine internals on display.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3748.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-explodedview.jpg

Cross section view of the exhaust.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3740.jpg

Another one showing the cylinder and oil cooler.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3733.jpg

Crank, and the pistons move up and down.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3730.jpg

Video of a model on display - this shows how combustion happens inside the engine


I saw a batch of school children being taken around the museum after we had finished our walk around, so I guess, the facility is open to tours for the public.

After the museum visit, we moved on to the engine plant, which is situated right across the road. Since this is a live production area, there were restrictions with regards to photography and movement inside the facility. This plant assembles 1-liter engines for the domestic market and we were shown the various steps, right from assembling the blocks to the complete engine. This was basically a walk-through of one section of the production, which had a viewing gallery. It's quite interesting to see how the production progresses - initially the whole "heavy bit" of grinding, cleaning and assembly is done, almost completely by robots. In fact, the cranks and cylinder blocks for the engines are built here in this facility.

Smaller robot that assembles smaller bits on the outer side of the engine.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3724.jpg

And manual assembly of the smaller parts + wiring.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3725.jpg

Overhead view of one section of the plant from the viewing gallery.



This robot does the clean-up of cranks and then puts it into the production line, while another one does some tolerance checks of the same part. If it is out of spec, the part will be removed from the production line.



Another one that cleans the engine block, and then does the same measurements checks before being placed on the line.



Some processes are still manual - like routing the sensor wires and putting them onto the engine.



Interesting to see an unmanned EV carrying the load around . This fellow sings a song to keep others informed about his presence and moves around that marking you see him trace in front.



Pictures credit: Nissan official photographer and Jaggu

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 09:33.
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Old 28th September 2015, 09:29   #5
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NISMO!

The reception area.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3862.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3773.jpg

Now, we have to move on to another very interesting place and that would be the world headquarters of a certain outfit known as NISMO! Nissan Motorsports International Co. Ltd. Established in September 1984, its objective is to contribute to the building of the brand through motorsports. This business includes development and sale of competition cars, engines and other parts, participating in various road races and rallies around the world, development and sales of NISMO performance packages, tuning packages and street packages for customers, providing customer support including technical assistance, modifications, repairs and driver training. They also undertake restoration of the heritage collection.

Motorsport events that NISMO is part of (for 2015) include Le Mans, Pirelli World Challenge, Blancpain Endurance Series, ADAC GT masters, FIA World Endurance Series, Japan's Super GT and Australia's V8 Supercars. In Japan's Super GT, NISMO has won the championship title 10 times in the 21 years that they have participated. NISMO festival is another huge event for these guys.

1982 GTR wearing race clothes.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3800.jpg

2002 GTR
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3799.jpg

1968 R381
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3790.jpg

This one is a concept
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3775.jpg

NISMO also provides engine tuning packages and competition parts for customers. Street parts are another series that includes cosmetic as well as modified parts for the suspension, tyres, wheels and exhausts.

Nismo S kit
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3842.jpg

Our own Micra with Nismo S would look like this?
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3845.jpg

NISMO has 2 programs - the first being "NISMO RS and S", this is where full-fledged modifications are provided to typical race and performance enthusiasts. Next comes the plain vanilla "NISMO" program, where aero parts, interiors, tyres and suspension mods are offered.

They provide service, maintenance and support at NISMO showrooms for these modified cars. This is not a place that you should enter with a faint heart or poor wallet.

Workshop floor. We are not allowed to take pics of customer vehicles with the number plates
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3826.jpg

A ground up restoration.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3824.jpg

Ready after service.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3835.jpg

Want to buy a fully modded engine?
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3776.jpg

Or just parts, cranks, turbo, intakes..
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3778.jpg

ECUs too!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3779.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3781.jpg

And then some rims and strut kits.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3782.jpg

Oil and filters.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3784.jpg

Some bling lights added on.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3786.jpg

Need bigger turbo!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3788.jpg

They also run a GT academy on playstation! This is apparently a subtle brand building activity.

Door handle to the conference room.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3772.jpg

The loo wall has cams!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3857.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 09:31.
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Quote:
Who is Christian Mardrus?
Christian is responsible for all the business operations of Nissan and Datsun in Africa, the Middle East and India. He oversees the sales functions, manufacturing, profitability and all the activities related to the regional operations. There are three manufacturing plants located across these regions - in Rosslyn, South Africa, in Chennai, India, and in Giza City, Egypt.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150904_svp_christian_mardrus_ghq7558.jpg

Day 3 – Second half - interaction with Christian Mardrus

This was another round table interaction, similar to the one we had the previous day. I have captured the key highlights of the conversation we had with him.

- 8 million sales in the AMI region

- India is poised to become the 3rd or 4th largest market for car makers in the future. Hence, the interest is very high

- They would be launching products with India-specific features

- Planning to bring the crossovers

- There are some plans for another entry level sub-4 meter vehicle

- Performance cars coming soon! GT-R??

And this interaction was the end of our trip! Or not..

So, while we were waiting for some photoshoots at the ground floor display area of the headquarters....

The Godzilla.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_7731.jpg

New X-Trail looks nice in person.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_7735.jpg

The Juke!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_7736.jpg

...our attention went to a very cute li'l EV kept on display.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_7782.jpg

Nissan has been conducting pilot programs, where these micro vehicles help with short distance commutes, with a special focus on the "elderly and single" population. The idea is to improve the public transportation system by using these vehicles as supplements. Yokohama is one of the cities where this is happening. Imagine a mother with a young kid getting off a metro train, moving to the parking lot and swiping a card to take this vehicle for a run in the city and then, dropping it off back at the station.

Or imagine tourists having access to such a vehicle to travel within the city, just like one rents cycles in other cities. I think it is a brilliant alternative - even in a country like ours!

So, what are these EVs?

- Ultra-compact 2-seater, with a range of about 100 km

- Top speed is 80 km/h

- 8 kW motor with 15 kw peak output for a 470 (without doors) to 500 kg (with doors) vehicle

- Normal 200 V charging point with 4 hours to full charge

- Turning radius is 3.4 meters

- Children aged above 6 years can be seated in the back as passengers

Scissor type door, convenient to open in tight city spaces.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3869.jpg

From the rear, it looks like a robot.
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Coil suspension with struts integrated. Should be nimble to handle.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3880.jpg

And this is the legroom for the passenger - pretty decent, since the seating is like a 2-wheeler. Driver seating is very neat, with controls falling perfectly to hand. The steering is a nice, chunky little unit which gives it a very go-kart-like feel. It does accelerate better than a kart.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3883.jpg

The passenger would be close to 5'10" in this picture. Not bad at all.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3900.jpg

Seeing us drool over the EV, one of our hosts Chris Keeffe from the Communications team, asked us if we would like to have a ride. The obvious question back was, "can WE drive it?" Unfortunately, we could not. Since the program is under trial, only people with a Japanese driving license are allowed to drive it for now. Still, Chris offered us rides as passengers and I just could not resist the offer. We used a lucky draw to decide the drive sequence (is it drive or ride? Well, drive - since it has 4 wheels!), and I got the lucky pole position.

Sharing the drive video


Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3896.jpg

Pictures credit: Nissan official photographer and Jaggu

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 09:53.
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Old 28th September 2015, 09:42   #7
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Saving the eye-candy for the end .

On the first day, we had also toured the Museum. When you say "museum", one would think there would be a few cars here and there with some engines and factory pictures - just like what we saw in the lobby. Right? Wrong!

If you noticed, this one has one more word "collection" before museum, and all of us in the group were just blown away by the number of cars that Nissan has painstakingly collected, restored and then stored in this huge factory shed.

So, the small door at the back of the room was opened and we walked into this.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-museuemfloor.jpg

There are more than 400 cars, I believe, and the one hour that we had, was not enough to cover all of them. So, I would just leave it to the pictures that I shot to tell the story.

More details of this unique collection can be accessed at the following link. http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/HERITAGE/index2.html

There are public tours that can be pre-booked on set dates each month. I recommend this for car lovers who can spare a day for a visit near Tokyo / Yokohama. Zama is about an hour's drive from Yokohama.

Datsun roadsters to start with
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3436.jpg

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This is an electric car!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3441.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3442.jpg

Moving to the 50's
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3445.jpg

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Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3452.jpg

The 60's Bluebird, Skyline
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-museum8.jpg

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Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3455.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3459.jpg

Wondering what the writings are? These are names of various prefectures, from the years when the Olympics happened in Japan
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3458.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3463.jpg

1985 when the AWD came out, forefather of the Patrol!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-museum10.jpg

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Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-museum14.jpg

Pictures credit: Nissan official photographer and Jaggu

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 09:44.
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Old 28th September 2015, 09:42   #8
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And some more cars from the collection that have been beautifully restored and kept.

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3465.jpg

The Cedric which took the Olympic torch around the island, you can see the provision to keep the torch at the back.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3469.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3473.jpg

Fairlady Z, one of the earlier ones
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3476.jpg

Even a Firetruck!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3479.jpg

Jonga!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3481.jpg

Skyline GT-R
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3490.jpg

Fairlady cop car for highway duty
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3492.jpg

S-Cargo mini carrier
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3506.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3522.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3523.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3524.jpg

Original Micra? This one is the production March
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3528.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3512.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 09:45.
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Old 28th September 2015, 09:42   #9
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Apart from the GT-R and Z models, Nissan had quite a few of their racing cars for us to ogle at!

Prince R380-I
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3580.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3581.jpg

Nissan R380-II
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3589.jpg

Nissan R382 (1969)
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3590.jpg

Just look at those bad boys!
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3591.jpg

The R Series cars
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150902_datsun_india7170.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150902_datsun_india7172.jpg

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Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3602.jpg

The rally cars
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3604.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3606.jpg

This Fairlady is still flaunting the rally damage from Africa if I remember correctly, beautifully preserved.
Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3607.jpg

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Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3612.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150902_datsun_india7158.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-150902_datsun_india7159.jpg

Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3621.jpg

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Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan-img_3628.jpg

Disclaimer: Nissan invited Team-BHP to Japan. They covered all the travel expenses for this visit.

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 09:58.
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Old 28th September 2015, 10:08   #10
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the International Scene. Thanks for sharing this lovely report! Rating thread a well-deserved 5 stars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggu View Post
It all starts with the digital phase, where design and testing of the product is simulated digitally. Then it goes on to do a complete "digital" production run. Imagine each and every step of the manufacturing process being replicated digitally to be fine-tuned. It is as complex as it gets!
Very interesting, I wasn't aware of this. Learn something new everyday .
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Old 28th September 2015, 11:17   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Very interesting, I wasn't aware of this. Learn something new everyday .

I work on the very same thing, trust me, my interest in cars fading away... though some of it is very interesting.
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Old 28th September 2015, 11:30   #12
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Default Re: Through an Enthusiast's eyes : A visit to Nissan-Datsun Headquarters & Technical Center, Japan

Hi Jaggu.

Fantastic coverage and a treasure trove of information. Drool worthy vintage cars.

Perfect start to the week.

Cheers.
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Old 28th September 2015, 12:26   #13
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What a cool 'Official' trip. How I envy you guys.

Wasn't Infiniti covered as part of the trip? I remember seeing a program where they showed every F1 car they used stored in boxes stacked one above the other. I am confused if its Honda or Nissan now!

Last edited by GTO : 28th September 2015 at 12:49. Reason: Typo
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Old 28th September 2015, 13:37   #14
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What a fantastic thread!
*Drool*

Hey, did you folks ever get a change to ask a question to the blokes at Nissan/Datsun/Any other manufacturer that why do they showcase such stunning good looking concept cars, but when the project hits the roads - it is so drab and dull looking?

Is the buying public averse to purchasing a stunner compared to a boring design? Is this what their market research tells them?
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Old 28th September 2015, 13:53   #15
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Very interesting.

Surprising for me to see that Datsun with such a great legacy introducing cars like Go in India.
I was not at all aware of the past Datsun models. The Go never allowed me to think in that direction, even to the point of not even putting in a lame Google search for it.
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