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Nissan Ariya electric SUV will usher in automaker's next-gen design

Nissan says the shield grille, specifically, will be a focal point and house an array of technology features.

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Nissan Ariya concept

Meet the tech shield.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Nissan is nearly ready to turn a new leaf with the coming production version of the Ariya concept. After kicking off the affordable EV market with its Leaf EV, it's shocking the automaker hasn't plopped its battery pack into an SUV yet.

On Wednesday, Nissan issued a not-so-subtle nudge to remind us the electric SUV is on the way. However, it wasn't just about the Ariya, but about how the SUV will usher in Nissan's next-generation design language.

It starts with a shield. Nissan named the prominent shield shape as a big part of its future. EVs, in general, allow designers to get a little more creative with certain elements. When it comes to the grille, it doesn't actually need to let air in to help cool an internal combustion engine since, well, there isn't one onboard.

So, the automaker's traditional V-Motion grille morphed into the shield, or the "tech shield," as Nissan referred to it. It'll house an array of technology packed in. Without going into specifics, Nissan said the crafted shield's design hides features to help read the road and show drivers things they otherwise wouldn't spot.

Such an ethos isn't totally new, as Mercedes-Benz hides all of its sensors behind the brand's star logo. BMW also showed this kind of thinking with its latest i4 concept. Generally speaking, it's certainly a new trend, though.

Nissan's shield grille is rather artful compared to some similar takes. The single piece is totally smooth and features a "kumiko" pattern in reference to Nissan's new "Timeless Japanese Futurism" design ethos. To protect the pattern and make sure sensors and gadgets remain operational, polycarbonate covers the grille.

So, we best get used to this look because Nissan says it's going to play a big part in its future cars. That's not a bad thing, as Nissan design continues a much-needed shift from "bland" to "that's better." As for the Ariya, or whatever the production version will be called, it'll likely hit showrooms in the near future. 

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