Even Bird Droppings Have Things to Teach Us
Nissan's quest for the perfect paint job has taken them around the world to research the causes of damage to paintwork.
The time is the early 1990s. After a long sea journey, a shipload of Nissan cars have arrived in Europe, and are waiting at the port to be moved to their final destinations. Above them, silhouetted against the pale northern sky, flocks of gulls and sea birds swoop and call... and poop.
And that is when the trouble started. Later research revealed that the oil in fish-eating birds' droppings causes it to stick firmly to paint, and eventually dissolve or soften it.
As the cars waited in the sun to be moved, the old droppings quickly dried and shrank, inflicting critical damage on what started out as a smooth coating.
The fleet of shiny new cars was ruined.
Of course, Nissan's paint research began long before 1990, and covers all kinds of substances that can harm paint, including insect juices, tree sap, pollen and acid rain.
Even so, that incident naturally spurred Nissan's researchers to step up their research efforts. They collected data from all around the world about the various causes of damage to paintwork, including gathering droppings from birds of all kinds, living all around the world, and painstakingly analyzing their constituents.
The development team found that different regions need different kinds of paint performance.
In North America, for example, there is an intense onslaught of chipping from small stones thrown up by the car in front, as well as damage from acid rain.
In Europe, paint must be strong against scratches. Not many people know this, but in some cases Nissan subtly tweaks the paint specification to suit the needs of the destination area.
Only Nissan goes to such lengths.
Thanks to the ceaseless efforts of the development team, Nissan's paint has been reborn, far tougher than it used to be, and it is now backed up by "Scratch Shield"*, a almost magic-like paint technology that guards the surface against blemishes, and even restores minor scratches over time.
Nissan's stance on paint development has moved on from the same old technology, constantly asking what will make a car's coating attractive to the customer.
The development team are researching, night and day, to create paint jobs that will make customers want to blurt out "Wow!" when they see a Nissan car.
So never mind about a little bird poop. A car that keeps its luster, however lazy you are about looking after it: that's the ultimate paint job that could be coming soon to Nissan cars.
* Scratch Shield is only available in certain countries and areas.