FACT SHEET: Nissan Design America

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Founded: 1979 as Nissan Design International (NDI), Inc. in San Diego, CA.
Current location: 9800 Campus Point Drive, San Diego, CA 92121
President: Shiro Nakamura
Vice President: Taro Ueda
Operation: Automotive design, including exterior/interior, color and material design, and design research and strategy planning. NDA is a division of Nissan North America, Inc.


Nissan Design America (NDA) began as Nissan Design International in 1979 in San Diego, established as a "satellite studio" for Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. with less than a dozen members. Its original mission was to provide a local perspective on the North American market and generate innovative ideas and design. After more than 30 years in operation, NDA is now a full-production automotive design studio capable of handling all phases of automotive design development, from exploratory to production.

NDA is part of the Global Nissan Design organization led by Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice President of Design and Chief Creative Officer for Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. The global organization consists of Global Nissan Design Center (GNDC, Atsugi, Japan), Nissan Design Europe (London), Creative Box, Inc. (Tokyo, Japan), Nissan Design China (Beijing, China) and NDA.

NDA designs vehicles with emphasis on the Americas region with sensitivity for the global market, in close collaboration with its counterparts at GNDC and Nissan Technical Centers in Japan and North America. Among NDA’s recent designs include: all-new 2013 Nissan Altima, NV commercial vehicles, 370Z sports coupe, Maxima sports sedan, Rogue compact crossover SUV, Altima coupe, Sentra compact sedan, Titan full-size truck, and Armada full-size SUV, to name but a few.

Besides the dozens of automotive projects undertaken for Nissan, NDA has engaged in a wide variety of non-automotive design projects over the years. These have included a 150-foot yacht, preschool furniture, golf clubs, medical devices, personal light aircraft and Class A catamaran, etc. Both Shiro Nakamura and Taro Ueda believe that changes in subject, scale and discipline help keep designers sharp and the stimuli fresh.

If you have any questions about NDA or would like comments on specific topics or issues, please contact Eiko Grafton at (858)622-5317 or egrafton@ndii.com.

Timeline of key events involving NDA and products designed by NDA (indicated in BOLD)

2012   All-new Nissan Altima sedan was revealed at the New York International Auto Show. (March)
2011   NDA designed and built an A-class Catamaran in Mexicali and raced in the 2011 Cat-A World
Championships in Denmark. (August)
Nissan won New York City’s "Taxi of Tomorrow" project; awarded contract to supply NV200 cabs for one decade. (May)
2010   All-new Nissan NV full-size commercial van went on sale.
Nissan Ellure Concept was revealed at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show. (November)
NDA opened its model milling and CAD data processing facility in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico. (January)
2009   NDA celebrated its 30th anniversary.
NDA’s two studio were integrated into one location in San Diego. (September)
Nissan NV2500 Concept was revealed. (February)
2008   Icon A5, a new category of personal aircraft, was revealed. NDA partnered with Icon Aircraft to jointly design the all-new aircraft.
All-new 2009 Nissan GT-R went on sale in July. NDA contributed to the early design phase of the car.
All-new 2009 Nissan Maxima was revealed at NYIAS in March.
An innovative proposal for a future minivan Nissan Forum Concept was revealed at NAIAS in January.
2007   Nissan Rogue crossover SUV went on sale.
Nissan Bevel Concept was revealed at NAIAS.
2006   All-new Altima was revealed at NYIAS.
All-new Sentra and URGE concept were revealed at NAIAS.
2005   Azeal, the first concept car designed at NDA's Farmington Hills studio, was revealed at NAIAS.
NDA San Diego’s studio renovation completed;; reopened in July.
NDA Farmington Hills Studio officially opened in March.
2004   Actic concept car was revealed at NAIAS; Nissan's first full-size truck/SUV series, Titan, Armada and Infiniti QX56, went on sale; all-new Quest with a category-busting design also went on sale.
2002   NDI was renamed Nissan Design America (NDA).
Quest Concept was revealed. Nissan Altima received 2002 North American Car of the Year Award; 350Z, a global collaboration among NDA, NDC (Japan) and NDE (Europe), went on sale.
2001   Frontier minor change by NDI reignited the sales of the pickup truck.
NDI was charged with managing the production design studio at the NTCNA facility in Farmington
Hills, MI. Nissan unveiled the 2002 Sentra SE-R, Frontier Crew Cab Long Bed and a totally new
Altima (NDI designed the interior).
2000   All-new, larger and more powerful 2000 Nissan Sentra made its entrance to the market.
1999   Xterra went on sale; launched a trend in "no-nonsense" SUVs for outdoor enthusiasts.
Nissan and Renault signed a global partnership agreement.
Frontier Crew Cab, the first compact truck with four real doors, was introduced.
1999   Nissan NCS (New Concept Sedan), SUT (Sports Utility Truck) and Z Concept were revealed at NAIAS.
1998   NDI initiated a group of exploratory design projects, SUT concept, Z concept and New Concept Sedan (NCS), for internal Nissan show. The seed for the re-birth of the Z car was planted.
1997   Second generation Altima was introduced.
1996   After 26 years, the Z car was "retired"; the last 300ZX imported into the U.S. was inducted into the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
1995   Nissan introduced all-new 200SX and fourth generation Sentra, both assembled in Smyrna, Tenn.
1993   Nissan celebrated first 10 years of manufacturing in the United States.
One millionth Maxima sold in the United States.
Infiniti J30 went on sale.
NDI created a line of tricycles for the Angeles Corp.
Altima became the best-selling new nameplate in the United States.
1992   NDI designed a full line of preschool/daycare furniture for the Angeles Corp. of St. Louis.
1991   Nissan FEV-X (Future Electric Vehicle) concept and Cocoon Concept were revealed.
Nissan unveiled $490 million, 1.7 million-square-foot expansion of Smyrna, Tenn. Plant.
1990   Nissan Gobi concept was revealed. NDI designed a 30-meter world-class yacht for a Turkish yacht builder. Maxima debuted.
1989   Nissan launched the Infiniti line of luxury vehicles.
1986   HardBody pickup truck, the first NDI design to make it to full production, went on sale.
Pathfinder also went on sale, redefining sport utility vehicle design as the first urban lifestyle SUV.
Pulsar NX, the first production modular automobile went on sale.
1984   NDI took on its first non-automotive design work from IVAC CORP to design medical instruments.
1983   NDI's current Campus Point Drive building opened. Designed by Ken Ronchetti, who was educated first as a car designer, it was part campus, part museum, and 100% creative sandbox.
Nissan's 75th Anniversary. Nissan NX21 concept car, the first concept car designed by NDI, was revealed.
1980   NDI's first projects consisted of concept sketches and 1/4 models for the 300ZX.
1979   Nissan Design International, Inc. (NDI) established in La Jolla, Calif.


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