Auto Shanghai 2013: Nissan debuts the Friend-Me Concept

Article by Christian A., 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.

Balínghòu youth, especially those coming from the middle class, always look for that fine balance in their vehicles and the Nissan Friend-ME manages to deliver this through its exterior design. The best way to describe the profile of this model is that it is the progressive translation of what is known as “Distilled Da Qi.” The floating roof is both light and thin and this complements well with the kick-up shape of the vehicle’s C-pillar.

Meanwhile the color of the exterior is in Neon Grey, allowing it to reveal the lines to its full effect especially at night. Nissan added that this color was chosen particularly to attract the tech-savvy youth and their specific tastes.

In terms of stance, the Friend-ME has one that is wide and low. Combined with the front and rear overhangs, both made shorter, it gives this model that athletic, aggressive, and solid feel to it. The design of the front is based on how energy flows which begins at the “V-motion” shaped grille before flowing to the shoulder lines and the bonnet.

Meanwhile both the headlamps, as well as the rear combination lamps, are highlighted by that distinct lighting signature, shaped like a boomerang. According to Taiji Toyota, who is the Nissan Design China Vice-President, the name Distilled Da Qi is the brand’s very own solution. Da Qi, he added, means casting an aura. In addition, it is not only about standing out, he continued, but also about fitting in, meaning going with the flow.

Taiji Toyota said further that the question is all about balance and the brand has managed to refine it to its very essence. He revealed that this resulted in bringing to the sedan class a new and youthful aspect to it. On the inside, all of the four seats, meaning the front and the back and even for the driver and passengers, are divided with similar high-tech status and style.

The reasoning is that once inside the cabin, everyone is considered peers and thus equals. Each occupant has access to the same information that the driver has, these include, among others, the amount of fuel remaining, navigation data, and speed.

In addition, all four occupants are empowered through the center console. This same console begins from the dashboard and goes all the way to the middle of the seats in the rear. It is an iconic monolith that is finished in onyx-black.

The screens can be viewed from each of the seat and effortlessly combine with the surface. The only time it becomes obvious is when the screens show whatever is needed at the moment. Should an occupant find content on a mobile phone exciting, this can then be transferred to the on-board screens allowing everyone to experience the same fun.

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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