Vehicles Design

The made in Italy Icona Nucleus represents the synthesis of futurism and a human centered mindset

A masterpiece of the Italian creativity


The concept

Nucleus takes the Icona Neo Concept one step further by reconsidering the very way that we use a vehicle. Neo introduced us to tomorrow, Nucleus will introduce us to after-tomorrow.

The Icona Nucleus embodies Icona’s vision for the future of mobility. First seen in 2015, the Icona Neo concept demonstrated a very tangible tomorrow for the electric vehicle. With its fully autonomous driving level five, the Nucleus jumps two generations ahead.

Inside the vehicle, the absence of a driver does not only mean the absence of a steering wheel and a dashboard, but the opportunity for a new understanding of mobile living spaces, where the focus is no longer the road but the destination.

Technology should be felt but not seen and so a “less is more approach” has been used, resulting in a fluid and sculptural body that combines the needs of both aerodynamics and ergonomics. Beyond its technological innovation, Nucleus also shows us the future for the next generation of cars. A generation that aspires to be socially responsible through respect not only for the natural environment but also for the human environment.

Mobility in after-tomorrow will be very different from today, with a large number of shared, self-driving, electric vehicles which will serve as individual or small group shuttles between mass mobility infrastructure and large hub destinations.

Yet, the future will remain multi-faceted and cars will continue to express our individuality as much as our clothing does (and as our mobile phones used to until the iPhone). With a fully autonomous self-driving car, we can make so much more use of it than the current family car: it will take you to the airport, come back to pick up the kids from school then later take the grandparents to a doctor’s appointment. The car will spend much less time parked, and will be much more usefully employed on the road. One car will replace several cars, and by nature will be an excellent place to be: its use and versatility will be directly reflected in the multiple possibilities of its interior design.

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Essential exterior design

“A seamless gliding first class form of transportation” says Samuel Chuffart, Global Design Director of Icona.

The mono-volume exterior is unlike any vehicle you have ever seen. The shape looks purposeful and beautiful. The profile and surfacing look as though the vehicle was shaped to move efficiently and quietly through the air. Being fully autonomous, there is no side glass in the traditional sense, rather semi-transparent body color panels that allow the occupants to see out from the vehicle but remain shrouded for privacy while traveling.

The upper glass from windscreen to the complete roof is asymmetrical, divided into fully transparent and semi-transparent glass, giving a distinct visual cue that this vehicle is something truly different. The Icona Nucleus looks like a self-moving executive lounge, characterized by a long curvy side line which emphasizes the cell nature of the vehicle.

Like a protective bubble, the Nucleus protects and embraces its passengers, at the same time offering a stunning view to the outside, thanks to an extremely wide glass surface which constitutes the majority of the upper body. The glass is partly transparent and partly semi-transparent, and the two portions are marked by a diagonal line which crosses the roof from front right to back left. In effect, the body is asymmetrical, with just one door on the right side and therefore two very different sides.

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With a length of 5.25 meters and a width of 2.12 meters, the Nucleus stands at 1.75 meters high on 26 inches wheels. Its slick aerodynamic design with full underbody diffuser and wheel arch aerodynamic blade extensions bring the CX to just under 0.25, a very good number that definitely helps its rolling resistance and energy consumption.

Luxury lounge-like interior

Now that all occupants are passengers, their interaction and the individuality of their personal space become a priority. The Nucleus can easily accommodate six people. Seats can be moved with flexibility, even transforming into a couch. One large seat in the front and one in the back make it as comfortable 3 and cozy as a luxury living room.

If you are heading to a five star hotel, sitting in the Nucleus will make it seem as if you are already in your room. A small table and all necessary spaces and connections for a laptop are available, so that even the shortest trip can be effectively used for business or leisure.

Nucleus reconsiders the way we access and live in our car, pushing the boundaries of interior space-driven design with an airplane-inspired interior simplified to its most pure form. No longer should we be compelled to sit in a line, with the windscreen and the road ahead as our only focus. With an asymmetrical approach and different seat designs and configurations, spending time together inside Nucleus means more freedom and flexibility; people enjoying their time together and configuring the space according to their mood and preferences that day.

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Presentation at Geneva 2018

ICONA the Company

Founded in 2010, Icona has its roots in the city of Turin, Italy, where know-how and many globally recognized automotive-related facilities are concentrated, including design studios, manufacturers, universities and research centers.

The professional experience of Icona’s founders ensures a solid base for the development projects carried out for its clients, with know-how that covers the entire process, from management to styling, and from engineering to prototyping and production. The Icona Group works with more than 120 designers, modelers, engineers, and project managers from 21 different countries, with offices in Shanghai and Los Angeles in addition to the Turin headquarters.

The Italian design company Icona, established in 2010 in Turin, is opening new offices in Piazza Maria Teresa. Opening new premises in the very heart of Turin is a very deliberate decision, a way of underlining the close ties between Icona’s new approach to business and the cradle of Italy’s main car design and industrial production. Piazza Maria Teresa is after all one of the most attractive corners of this city set in the Alpine foothills.

In Icona’s style centre, the modern furnishing and classic 19th century architecture blend
perfectly, with an attention to detail typical of our Global Design Director Samuel Chuffart. The
new style centre currently hosts 16 employees who work closely with their 14 colleagues at the
design centre in Los Angeles, opened in 2016, and 89 in the Shanghai offices that have been
operating since 2010.

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Icona was founded in 2010 in the Italian city of Turin, a hub of know-how and headquarters for
many internationally renowned players in the automotive industry, including design firms,
manufacturing companies, universities and research centres.

Icona’s founders and shareholders are Turin-based firms Cecomp and Tecnocad along with Teresio
Gigi Gaudio, a successful senior executive who has held leadership positions at Fiamm, Stile
Bertone and Aprilia, and is currently also Executive Deputy Chairman at Coeclerici.

Germano Cini’s firm Tecnocad recently inaugurated its new “Manta22” premises:  22,000 square
metres of glass and technology located at Fiat’s former Style Centre at Mirafiori. In June 2017,
Cecomp inaugurated its new premises at Piobesi that will focus on the production of aluminium
components, the field in which the firm, founded by Giovanni Forneris and currently managed by
brothers Paolo and Gianluca Forneris, excels at a global level.

According to Dr Gaudio: “We realised straight away that establishing a new automotive design business, even though benefiting from access to a pool of consolidated and illustrious local expertise, would have had no future if it was based on the same business models that turned Turin’s car firms into the big names they are today. It was essential to develop an open approach to the international context, to new customers who have plenty of new projects up their sleeve but still lack the all-essential automotive know-how required to come up with high-quality products. In seven years, Icona has increased its client pool from 6 to 16 clients and ended 2017 with a consolidated turnover of 18 million Euro and profit of 1.4 million Euro: an excellent result for a young company that only sells design”.

The first show car labelled Icona was designed right here in Turin: the Fuselage, a streamlined 4- seater sedan with a very sensual and sporting feel. The latest show car, conceived in Piazza Maria Teresa, is the Lvchi Urano, first showcased in Shanghai on January 8; an electrically powered concept car designed and created for the Asian clientele of the future.

“Our designers in the three studios in Turin, Shanghai and Los Angeles are from 21 different
countries” explains Global Design Director Samuel Chuffart, “and they handle the entire
development of a whole range of projects, thanks to constant and effective collaboration and
communication, working in synch despite the different time zones. This approach allows us to
handle 22 projects simultaneously, as we are today”.

According to Icona STC srl’s CEO Paolo Forneris, the key to success is working closely with the client, “which means being fully up to speed regarding the whole process; from management to style, engineering, prototypes and finally production.

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Thanks to their experience and enthusiasm, the members of the Icona team can rely on the professional experience of the founders who provide solid foundations for project development, showing their clients a different, new and innovative perspective”.

Raffaele Schiavullo
the authorRaffaele Schiavullo
ADMINISTRATOR - Senior 3D/Virtual Reality Specialist and Automotive HMI developer - Working in London and "insanely" passionate about technology and its creative applications


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