Press days for the 2013 New York Auto Show are over, so now it’s time to move our attention to the next show on the docket: Auto Shanghai 2013 set to start on April 20. In the Big Apple, Nissan unveiled the hybrid version for the Nissan Pathfinder and the company will bring an all-new concept car called Friend-ME to China.
All the information we have on the new concept up to this point is a teaser image that reveals an innovative set of headlights and Nissan’s announcement that the new Friend-ME will feature a unique center console that allows "Four Seats, One Mind Connectivity" - equal information sharing among all aboard.
According to Nissan, the new Friend-ME is "designed for the vibrant, young generation in China, one of most exciting segments in the fastest-growing automobile markets in the world."
Alongside the new Friend-ME concept, Nissan will also display 20 new models in Shanghai.
Updated 04/20/2013: Nissan has officially unveiled the Friend-ME Concept. See all of the details after the jump.
The exterior of the Friend-ME concept is far sexier than we ever could have thought. Sure, it’s just a concept, but Nissan really put together a piece of art for the Chinese market to drool over.
From the front, you will see a wide and low stance, a prominent V-shaped grille surround, boomerang-style headlights and huge ridges on the outer edges of the hood. Additionally, you will notice the shallow rake to the windshield that allows air to swoop freely up and over the car.
Down the side, there are some very pronounced bodylines that look as if they were eroded into the body by airflow swooping up and over the front fender, and down the shoulderline of the Friend-ME concept. The side-view mirrors are nonexistent – we assume they are cameras – and the overall profile takes on a more hatchback look from the side.
Around the backside, you get a slightly more production-looking car, but it is still pretty modern. The boomerang treatment is applied to the taillights, so they match up with the headlights perfectly. The rear skirt features integrated tailpipes and a long, chrome strip on the base.
Overall, the Friend-ME’s exterior is more than we expected, but it does get more and more boring as you move from the front to the rear. Then again, this is only a concept, so we can’t put too much stock in its design.
On the inside, the Friend-ME is basically what you would expect from a super-modern concept car. It is way over the top with gadgets and gizmos, and it looks like something ripped straight out of a future-based movie.
The front and rear seats are all of the bucket variety, so everyone sits comfortably with plenty of elbow room to spare. The cabin is slathered in black and white coloring that at first glance is kind of cool, but after looking at the image too long, it becomes slightly blinding. The center console is superbly clean only because it is nearly all taken up by a touchscreen interface that like control just about every feature in the car.
What’s really cool is that everyone in the cabin is treated equally. Everyone in the cabin has access to all of the pertinent information, like navigation, speed and fuel level. Additionally, if the driver happens to be a Taylor Swift fan and you fancy a little Metallica, don’t fret, as the passengers have the ability to inject their own tastes into the audio system.
Strangely enough, the “Friend-ME” name has no tie in with any of the social media sites on the Internet; go figure…
As we figured, the engine was a bit of an afterthought with the Friend-ME concept. All Nissan let us know is that the engine is a “modest 2.0-liter,” whatever that means. We assume it is in the 150-horsepower range and isn’t anything worthy of a mention.
Nissan dis let us know that it envisions a PureDrive hybrid powertrain for the Friend-ME concept, so we may see this powertrain debut in a revised version of this concept in the future.
Pricing and Release
With this only being a concept model for now, there is no information on pricing or a release date, nor do we expect one any time soon. The Friend-ME concept will likely only see use as a future-design model that will lend various styling and technology cues to other production models.
Well, this is a concept that looks like it belongs somewhere near the year 2025 or 2030, so laying down competition is nearly impossible. Okay, we’ll be blunt, it is impossible. Maybe future versions of the concept will have some competition, but this version does not.
It is what it is: a concept. It is over the top and super modern, so to expect it to ever hit production is ludicrous. However, as a concept, it looks pretty sexy from the front, but then it slowly becomes duller as you reach the backside. It’s almost like two different designers were working on the front and rear ends. The interior is insanely modern and we will likely not see anything nearing this technology level for at least another decade. But it is a cool idea.
- Awesome design on the front
- Super-modern, but simplified interior
- Looks like it may see production on some level in the distant future
- Boring back end
- Terrible color choices for the interior
- Only a modest engine
Nissan Friend-ME concept for a new generation
Head-turning style for youth who clock mobility in kilobits per second
- Response to dreams of young Chinese soon to be world’s largest customer segment
- New approach to the sedan asserts confident night-time presence
- Private-yet-connected space for peers makes just hanging out an adventure
- Proof of Nissan’s determination to lead the way in delivering Chinese customer aspirations
SHANGHAI, China – Nissan today revealed its Friend-Me concept, 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. Inside is a carefully considered space designed to give four friends a sense of shared adventure without hierarchy.
The concept is applicable globally, but the genesis of Friend-Me was Nissan’s exploring the aspirations of customers destined to emerge as the world’s largest single market segment: the “Bālínghòu," 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. That time – usually at night – tastes sweetest when four buddies are in their own private space. Yet they can share adventures by connecting virtually in a car where all feel equal.
Edgy, but mannered enough to go with the flow
Heads are bound to turn as the Friend-Me crew cruise the night-time streets, because this car asserts an imposing presence. Solidity and flowing lines give it an edgy muscularity that’s ‘bad’… but not evil. It’s definitely not your old man’s sedan, yet it’s mannered enough not to embarrass the family.
With its exterior design, 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."
A low and wide stance with short front and rear overhang emphasizes more chunky, aggressive and sporty impression rather than authentic sedans. Together with this challenging proportion, distinctive design aspects are presenting one of the new directions of Nissan appearance. The energetic and fluid momentum which arises from ‘V-motion’ shaped grille streams through the hood to shoulder creates the impressive cadence with emotional aura.
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 Gray exterior color – specially developed to appeal to tech-savvy youthful tastes – show 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. What’s more, the driver isn’t a ‘music dictator’ – everyone has the power to propose shared experiences… or go his own way.
Empowering all four adventurers is a unique center 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 “toss" it from his mobile to the on-board screens so all can share in the fun.
“Our console is like an oracle-stone that gives the Friend-Me crew the power to look down the road ahead, over the horizon, through walls… to anywhere in the online world," said Toyota. “As they cruise through an entertainment district, the console reveals the scenes playing out in each building they pass. We’ve anticipated where automotive online is destined to go – and it’s bound to be exciting."
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. And while the ecologically efficient PureDrive hybrid powertrain envisioned for Friend-Me would deliver more than enough zip for city driving, the engine is a modest 2.0-liter. Emphatically, the customers whose aspirations guided the design said it’s not highway performance they want, it’s a look that turns heads and a private-yet-connected space where just hanging out feels like an adventure.
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."