Whew. Concept sketches from the Italians, the British, and the Germans do things to the enthusiasts’ physiology, but nothing taxes the brain like concepts from the French. Outlandish, futuristic, quirky, worthy of an extended point and laugh session by the Jezza, James and Richard trio, the Renault FRENDZY is all that, and more.
It is this writer’s humble opinion that the Renault DeZir (not the DZire) was an easily lovable, lust worthy concept, the Captur a bit less so and the R-SPACE, the most conventional looking of the lot, that is until the doors fly open. The FRENDZY is the fourth concept in a series of designs under the stewardship of Laurens van den Acker, Senior Vice President, Design Renault. The designs are said to be inspired by Renault’s ‘Drive the Change’ motto.
It is the fourth step in Renault’s design strategy based on “the different stages of the human life cycle”. FRENDZY is a commercial business vehicle which can double up perfectly as a comfortable passenger car, it meets the requirements of business users on the one hand and those of families on the other. Exterior Designer Deyan Denkov stresses that the asymmetric body design was very much intentional, and is used to express the twin roles this car is capable of. The driver’s side, there are side windows, no centre pillar ( the B Pillar), but with centre opening doors represents the world of the family.
On the passenger’s side, there’s no glazing and no centre pillar, just one conventional door and one sliding side door which incorporates a 37-inch widescreen display. This is the world of work. The idea of having an exterior display, to act as an advertising medium or to display messages, might seem novel, but it is something that we’ve seen being implemented by young designers world over in various design contests that do not get the kind of exposure this baby from Renault will.
The FRENDZY, being projected as the multi role family car, resorts to a number of tricks to state its intent. The driver, can adapt the vehicle to his or her needs. In ‘work’ mode, the rear-view mirrors sit upright and the interior lighting is green; in ‘family’ mode, the mirrors swivel round to the horizontal position and the interior is bathed in a radiant orange ambience, a subtle reference to the orange Captur which was the wholly family oriented concept from Renault Design. Coloured repeater lights in the headlamps and tail lights provide an external indication of the mode in which FRENDZY is operating.
The driver’s side cockpit is designed along the theme of a futuristic ‘work bench’ featuring a structure which appears to be made from molten metal. Green light emanating from the dashboard brings this smooth and organic architecture to life. The lighting, dare we say, is a bit overdone, thanks to the ”nozzles” which Renault claims will be used to plug in various accessories. Modularity, as much of a buzzword in the product design scene, seems to have taken its place here too. The fabric roof adapts itself to the shape of bulky objects, magnetic fixings allow the load to be secured to the floor, and modular stowage systems are a practical bonus for business users. The single-piece rear seat is integrated into the floor, while the front seat folds forward in order to free up space.
The comfortable passenger seat and, in the rear, a big bench seat give away the FRENDZY’s intention of being a family car too. Depending on their mood of the moment, children can watch a film or play games on the touch-sensitive pad which slides out from the back of the driver’s seat. In addition to this touch pad, there is also special slate integrated into the sliding door, which of course kids can doodle on.
In work mode, the slate can be used for either serious looking formulas or a complicated list of sales figures!
Renault in its press release has projected the concept as an innovative office on wheels, with a BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet recently launched by Research In Motion (RIM), plugged in the dash, bearing the heavier share of the burden of living up to the FRENDZY’s ‘office on wheels’ promo line. Being an electric car, very much like the DeZir, the FRENDZY is also bestowed with the capability to produce sounds, both inside and outside, the result of Renault’s collaboration with ICRAM.