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by Daniel DeGasperi

Designed specifically to appeal to Chinese men born in the 1980s, the Nissan Friend-ME is a four-seat four-door design concept shown at the Shanghai auto show.

With a PureDrive hybrid drivetrain, and based on “an existing Nissan sedan architecture” all but confirmed to be the Pulsar, the Friend-ME claims to be the result of research into the tastes of young Chinese known as the ‘Balinghou’ generation born in the 1980s.

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Balinghou males are a huge cohort in the world’s largest market, and they’re now reaching their prime,” said Francois Bancon, Nissan GM of product planning and research.

“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.”

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With European sales in downturn, the Chinese market continuing to rapidly expand, and with around 240 million native Chinese born in the 1980s, no doubt Nissan sees a huge opportunity in appealing to the Balinghou generation.

Highlights, according to Nissan, are a low and wide stance with short front and rear overhangs giving the car an “edgy muscularity”; a thin and light roof with “kick up” shape around the C-pillar; and an interior based around the theory of ‘equal’ with all four passengers sharing the same space and reading the same interior dials as each other.

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The concept of Distilled Da Qi represents “casting an aura, about standing out, but at the same time, fitting in”.

A design shared between Nissan Design China in Beijing – which opened in 2011 – and Nissan Global Design Centre in Japan, the Friend-ME may morph into a production sedan spin-off of the Nissan Leaf all-electric hatchback, and enter world markets including the US.




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