In just under a year, Nissan test engineers have gone through at least two miles of adhesive camouflage as they work to conceal the vehicles transforming the automaker’s product lineup.
Vehicle camo keeps Nissan’s secrets under wraps so when reveal day comes, the surprise and delight factor is show stopping. With Nissan bringing 10 new vehicles to market in just 20 months, the team behind Nissan’s camo scene has been plenty busy.
All-new 2020 Sentra, all-new 2021 Rogue, new 2021 Kicks and new 2021 Armada are a few of the recently revealed Nissan products. For models undergoing a complete redesign – like the all-new 2022 Nissan Frontier and all-new 2022 Nissan Pathfinder SUV revealed on Feb. 4 – the stakes were especially high.
“When we reveal a vehicle, it should be a very momentous occasion,” explains Mike Rosinski, a vehicle development manager at Nissan North America. “However, before a vehicle is launched, we have months of work where we put the vehicle on actual roads for testing. In order to not take away from the excitement of the reveal, we have to keep the cars always in disguise and under wraps.”
These test vehicles require full coverage, garage lockup, and transport in enclosed trailers to shield them from prying eyes or overhead drones that have been known to capture aerial spy shots. The vehicles are even hidden under special drivable car covers while being transported inside Nissan’s R&D facilities.
“Spy photographers will literally camp outside our testing centers,” Rosinski says. “Sometimes, they even hide in the bushes. If spy photos get out, they can give our competitors a real advantage.”
When media and enthusiasts are especially eager for a glimpse of the all-new Frontier, the job becomes even more sensitive for Nissan technicians on the camo team.
A crucial component of the process is the body wrap – distinct black and white camouflage in patterned designs that are intentionally difficult to focus on with a camera lens. Nissan deploys a range of camo patterns and randomly assigns them.
“The patterns are key,” says Sherri Bruder, manager, Engineering Fleet, Nissan North America. “If the material was just black or white or beige, you could see the body lines of the vehicle. The patterns make it tougher to see those body lines.”
But covering the vehicles isn’t always enough. Other measures taken include removing wheel badges or painting them black, hiding interior instrument panels, and adding tape around the headlights to disguise their new shape. A layer of padding beneath the adhesive film can also be added to further mask the vehicle body. To conceal the all-new Pathfinder’s distinct new grill for example, Nissan technicians added materials underneath the camo to greatly distort its appearance.
Michael Alcantar is one of the individuals at the center of the camouflaging process for Nissan. He is one of a few main “camo wrappers” at the center. He says this year has been busier than most. He, perhaps better than anyone, can feel the changes afoot at Nissan.
“Everyone at Nissan is focused on our transformation plan, Nissan NEXT, which is taking our company to new levels in terms of our product and culture,” Alcantar says. “I get to see evidence of this makeover every day in the lines, edges and shapes that I’m covering on these new vehicles. It’s a privilege to be one of the very first people to see and touch these vehicles.”
Bruder, who works closely with Alcantar, feels the same excitement.
“Truly we have become masters in wrapping our ‘presents’ for the future,” says Bruder of her department. “Our team has a sense of pride knowing what we’re doing is very important. The process starts with us to make sure that we provide a wow-factor for all of the eyes that are watching for what’s next at Nissan.”