This time around? They turned to The Dark Side.
For the launch of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," Nissan has given Roadshow an exclusive early look at thissedan that they've transformed into a vehicle inspired by a First Order Special Forces TIE fighter.
But Nissan isn't stopping at a single model; in fact, they're showing off seven Star Wars-themed cars and trucks at this week's LAAS. The lineup includes the, , Altima, and , and each vehicle has its own unique design created in close collaboration with Lucasfilm and Vehicle Effects, the company responsible for most of the custom cars you've seen in the more recent "Fast and Furious" movies.
We got a closer look at the Special Forces TIE fighter Altima, and when they rolled up the doors to the secret warehouse, this Nissan greeted us with the familiar screeches and PEW-PEW laser cannon fire sounds a TIE Fighter makes. It was a very cool reveal.
One of the things that's most interesting about the car's build is the balance they've struck between using future technology like 3D printing and more analog techniques like old-fashioned metal fabrication to bring the design to life. Vehicle Effects' ability to rapid prototype pieces like the TIE Fighter wings for the flanks mean that they've been able to refine the look into something more artistic, as opposed to simply slapping two huge "wing" panels on each side of the sedan.
It also doesn't hurt that Lucasfilm offered the Vehicle Effects team massive amounts of reference files to get each car's look just right, down to the smallest details. As for fabrication, that rounded TIE Fighter windshield speaks for itself — it's downright beautiful, and speaks to the talented team at Vehicle Effects.
I asked Nissan's VP of Marketing Communications & Media Jeremy Tucker what made these concept cars so appealing to the company, and he connected some dots I hadn't:
"We're bringing tomorrow's technology to consumers today with our Nissan Intelligent Mobility platform," he said. "Sometimes it's hard to talk about that technology - get people to understand it, sometimes it can be scary. Star Wars is an incredible partner and metaphor for us to help people understand it. We get things like shields. We understand how a droid helps the pilot in the movie navigate to a successful mission."
If that's the goal, I think the TIE Altima is mostly successful, but I'll admit to walking away wanting even more from the custom build. Semi-autonomous capabilities like Nissan's own ProPilot Assist tech are rapidly becoming more and more popular, so a head-up display (maybe projected from the car's interior onto that custom windshield) seems like a missed opportunity on this particular ride, as does a feature incorporating either the car's native cameras or external motion sensors.
Don't get me wrong, this vehicle is an impressive accomplishment considering the six-month window it took to build…but after seeing it in person, you'd understand how any Star Wars fanatic might start adding more fantastical features to it in their own mind.
Unfortunately for us, it looks like none of these custom cars will be available for you and I to purchase -- unlike. But we'll still get to ogle them as they make the rounds to promote "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and as long as these cars allow my imagination to run wild with future possibilities, that's okay with me.
Just…please don't make a Porg-inspired car, Nissan. Nobody wants that.