Auto Shanghai 2013: Nissan debuts the Friend-Me Concept

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 22, 2013

Nissan’s Friend-ME Concept has made its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show. Targeted at the youth market, this four-seat saloon is the product of the joint efforts of design teams from Nissan Design China (NDC) in Beijing and Nissan Global Design Centre (NGDC). These teams were headed by Shiro Nakamura, Nissan's senior vice president and chief creative officer.

Nissan based this concept on the underpinnings of the current Nissan saloon so it needs a minimum of unique components. The Friend-ME gets a sporty, aggressive appearance from its short overhangs and a low, wide stance. The Friend-ME will get a PureDrive hybrid powertrain and its low-emissions vehicle will primarily be used as urban transport.

Nissan also said that the Friend-ME's bespoke centre console design facilitates "four seats, one mind connectivity.” All of its four seats are separate, implying that the occupants are regarded as equals. The car uses a centre console that extends from the dash to the space between the rear seats. Every occupant could get to a screen that displays details about the car like present speed or navigation.

It’s expected that the Nissan Friend-ME is the first in a series of concepts that focus on the needs of potential buyers in China. Nissan is hoping to take advantage of the major increase in young car owners in China. The Friend-ME is targeted at the 'Balinghou', the 240 million Chinese born in the 1980s, a mostly middle-class market.

Press Release

Nissan Friend-ME Concept

Nissan Friend-ME Concept is a four-passenger sedan designed for a generation with a very different automotive outlook. With an assertive, imposing exterior featuring boldly flowing sculpted lines, Friend-ME is a confident creature of the night, meant to be seen in bright city lights.

The concept is applicable globally, but the genesis of Friend-ME was Nissan's research into the aspirations of customers destined to emerge as the world's largest single market segment: the "Bālínghòu", which is how around 240 million Chinese born in the 1980s are known. Specifically, Friend-ME addresses the social dynamics of Chinese men in their mid-20s.

"Bālínghòu males are a huge cohort in the world's largest market, and they're now reaching their prime," said François Bancon, Division General Manager of product strategy and advanced planning at Nissan. "Clearly, their tastes will shape automotive trends worldwide for decades to come. So we believe it's important to listen with respect, and respond by putting dreams within their reach. That's why Friend-ME is our first proposition in an ongoing dialogue."

For a generation that grew up without siblings, leisure time shared with peers is treasured.

Edgy, but mannered enough to go with the flow

This car asserts an imposing presence - solidity and flowing lines give it an edgy muscularity.

With its exterior design, Nissan Friend-ME addresses a fine balance that middle-class Bālínghòu youth must heed. "We call our solution Distilled Da Qi," said Taiji Toyota, Vice President of Nissan Design China. "Da Qi is about casting an aura, about standing out, but at the same time going with the flow, fitting in. It's a question of balance, and we've worked to refine it right down to the essence. The result adds an entirely new and youthful dimension to the sedan category."

Nissan Friend-ME features a low and wide stance with short front and rear overhangs giving a chunky, aggressive and sporty impression. The design's energy flows from the 'V-motion' shaped grille and streams through the bonnet and shoulder lines while the headlamps and rear combination lamps are accentuated by its unique boomerang-shaped lighting signature.

The profile of the vehicle completely describes the progressive translation of 'Distilled Da Qi'. The thin and light floating roof and kick-up shape around the C-pillar resonates well and produces sophisticated harmony. Likewise, the Neon Grey exterior colour - specially developed to appeal to tech-savvy youthful tastes - shows its lines to full effect at night.

'Oracle stone' empowers shared adventure

Inside, front and back, driver and passenger, all four seats are separate with the same high-tech style and status, because in this cabin all aboard are peers - equals. And all share the same information as the driver: speed, navigation, fuel remaining - everything.

Empowering all four adventurers is a unique centre console stretching from the dash to between the rear seats - an iconic monolith in an onyx-black finish. Screens visible from each seat blend seamlessly with the surface, only becoming apparent as they display whatever contents the buzz of the moment demands. Whoever finds cool content can transfer it from his mobile to the on-board screens so all can share in the fun.

A dream within reach

Nissan Friend-ME has been carefully designed as a dream within reach of young customers in China. Based on an existing Nissan sedan architecture, it requires a minimum of unique components. The ecologically efficient PureDrive hybrid powertrain envisioned for Friend-ME would deliver more than enough zip for city driving.

That's the dream Nissan Friend-ME delivers, thanks to the collaboration between design teams from Nissan Design China (NDC) - the Beijing studio established in 2011 - and Nissan Global Design Center (NGDC) under the leadership and direction of Shiro Nakamura, Nissan's Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer. One of NDC's most ambitious designs so far, Friend-ME is one of many in-depth explorations of China's customer needs and aspirations now underway.

"If there's one thing we want Nissan to be known for, it's uniquely powerful insight into what excites and delights customers across China," said Bancon. "Friend-ME is just the beginning."

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