Nissan is leaving no room for a flawed Murano launch, implements new quality programs

Article by Christian A., on November 12, 2014

To ensure a flawless launch of the new Nissan Murano, the carmaker has implemented a number of quality programs at its Canton site in Mississippi. Nissan has determined that shifting the Murano global export base from Japan to Canton requires more than retooling the site’s assembly line if it wants the crossover to have a flawless rollout.

In fact, the Japanese carmaker invested $100 million to setup a supplier park nearby that would locate 12 to 14 critical Murano suppliers close to the assembly line. The carmaker also set up a series of off-line loops through the site to allow the Murano to be pulled out of the normal production flow when additional workmanship is needed.

John Martin, senior vice president for Nissan North America's manufacturing and supply chain operations, called the Murano as their “image car,” so they want to ensure that its launch was flawless. In the next few months, the Canton site will start shipping Nissan’s image car to 118 export markets.

Martin is even considering how the Murano would pass on markets like Japan and Australia. In fact, he recently that he is awaiting final approval from company inspectors in Japan to make sure the Murano “passes muster there."

He noted that consumers in Australia, which is now dependent on imports, are “very choosy about what they get." Nissan will start selling the Murano next month in the United States, where dealers are already racing to get enough stocks of the redesigned crossover.

Martin said the Murano, a near-luxury crossover, will try to tempt customers from their “BMWs and Lexuses,” with its features like swervy new body design, a leather-stitched steering wheel, an oversized moonroof and ergonomic rear seats.

Nissan shifted Martin and his team of manufacturing and quality executives from its operations in Europe, where he was able to implement a number of letter-perfect new-model launches there.

Exterior Design

Since the goal for the new Murano was to have a design that displayed the notion of travel in the future, the designers wanted it to have the ability to draw in people with its visuals. At the same time, the designers also wanted to be able to defy gravity and this was made possible by making the form light through using flowing lines and glass.

Thus while the well-known glass areas present in the first version of the Murano are still there, the new design expands on this and puts in D-pillars and the jet-inspired roof. Since it appears as if it is disconnected from the roof, it helps give the cabin a lighter look.

It gives it that floating feeling one can immediately see even from afar. One challenge that needed to be faced was the sculptural bodysides considering how intense the curvature of the fender stampings in the rear is. Though the dimensions are that same as that of the prior generation, the new Murano is longer, wider, and lower. Aerodynamics therefore was improved without sacrificing any of the stance and height one would expect from a crossover.

Meanwhile the lower rocker panels ensure that toughness is balanced with aerodynamics. There are still other significant details, all of which were implemented to give the new Murano overall aerodynamics that is 16% better compared to the generation before it. Examples of these include the fender lip moldings and the active grille shutter. In the rear, there are the integrated spoiler, tire deflectors, and bumper surfacing.

According to Nakamura, the main principle when it came to this new offering’s interior and exterior was to elevate the experience. This appeared to be counter to the chunkiness and heaviness one would expected from a standard SUV, he adds. Because of this, they were motivated to advance not only innovative aerodynamics but to make sure that future designs would have three important elements which are the floating roofline, signature lighting, and V-Motion front end, continued Nakamura.

Thus while it was with the Nissan 370Z that the headlights and taillights in a boomerang style were first shown, the new Murano puts its own spin on this. To highlight the boomerang shape, unique signature lights were placed, and aside from being reduced, positioned on the extremes to give the lights an appearance as if they were flowing with the wind.

The headlights make use of LEDs which are considered more durable and efficient compared to xenon lights and halogen. For the taillights, there was a need to ensure that these would offset the needed crossover utility. Thus its final form has been incorporated with the rear glass to give it a high-tech quality.

Nakamura explained that with the signature lights using LED, and the Daytime Running Light, in LED as well, the vehicle can immediately be recognized even at night. While it has been a trademark of the company, it was still a challenge on an engineering level as there was a need to extensively tune it in order to improve the intensity of the light and the shape, he continued.

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Topics: nissan, nissan muran, suv



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