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.
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, 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.”
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.”