Auto Shanghai 2013: Nissan Friend-ME Concept
Nissan has revealed its Friend-ME concept, a four-passenger sedan designed for a generation with a very different automotive outlook.
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.”
The car asserts an imposing presence with an assertive exterior featuring flowing sculpted lines.
“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.”
Friend-ME features a low and wide stance with short front and rear overhangs giving a chunky, aggressive impression. The design 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 boomerang-shaped lighting signature.
Inside, front and back, driver and passenger, all four seats are separate with the same style and status.
Empowering all those aboard is a centre console stretching from the dash to between the rear seats – a monolith of sorts finished in an onyx-black finish. Screens visible from each seat blend with the surface, only becoming apparent as and when the occupants choose to view them.
Friend-ME has been specifically designed as a car within reach of young customers in China. Based on an existing Nissan sedan architecture, it requires only few unique components. Nissan maintains the PureDrive hybrid powertrain envisioned for Friend-ME would deliver sufficient mileage for city-centric driving.
Representing an in-depth exploration of China’s customer needs and aspirations, the concept car is the result of an extensive 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.
“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.”