Ahead of the 64th Frankfurt Motor Show, Renault is pleased to reveal details of the Frendzy concept car.
After the notion of 'love at first sight' expressed by DeZir, discovering the world with Captur and the establishment of a family with R-Space, Frendzy presents the world of work. It is the fourth step in Renault's design strategy based on the different stages of the human life cycle.
The latest concept car to be produced under the leadership of Laurens van den Acker is the perfect multi-talented vehicle. As 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.
A fully fledged office on wheels with the introduction of the new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, the electrically powered Frendzy showcases Renault's new design language.
Laurens van den Acker, Senior Vice President, Design Renault: "Frendzy is the fourth vehicle to illustrate Renault's new design strategy, a series which started with DeZir. Frendzy takes an original and innovative stance on the world of light commercial vehicles - a key part of Renault's activities".
Renault Frendzy Concept has a dual personality. These days, professional and personal lives are so intricately interwoven that drivers find themselves permanently channel-hopping between one world and the other. The role of Frendzy is to be a partner that takes the strain out of this lifestyle.
Axel Breun, Design Director, Concept and Show Cars: "Frendzy is the must-have vehicle for flexibility and versatility. It is efficient and modern as a work tool, yet sporting and warmly welcoming for 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 driver's side, complete with side windows, still no centre pillar, but with centre opening doors represents the world of the family. Ease of loading and ease of entry go without saying in both worlds!
Exterior designer, Deyan Denkov: "The concept of an asymmetric body design was the most logical way to express this vehicle's two roles. From the very start, I wanted to move away from the traditional format for commercial vehicles and, in doing so, show that this type of vehicle could also be more emotional, more dynamic and more attractive. I took inspiration from a wide variety of sources, including unconventionally shaped aircraft such as the Airbus Beluga and the Antonov 224."
On weekdays, Renault Frendzy Concept is a vehicle that adapts to the requirements of the business user, with a large external screen that can display useful messages or information (such as "making deliveries" or "back in five minutes", the battery-charging method or the remaining charge) or advertising messages, either whilst parked or on the move. Come the weekend, the vehicle transforms itself into a family vehicle, with a comfortable passenger seat and, in the rear, a big bench seat. 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. They can even draw on a special slate integrated into the sliding door.
The driver, likewise, 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. Coloured repeater lights in the headlamps and tail lights provide an external indication of the mode in which Frendzy is operating.
With Frendzy, Renault - as Europe's light commercial vehicles' market leader for the past 13 years - is once again able to showcase the practicality, modularity and versatility already proven by the Kangoo, Trafic and Master on our roads today.
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. These lights signify the 'work' mode and tie in with the colour displayed on the exterior of the vehicle.
In the 'family' mode, the atmosphere becomes warmer as the green lights turn orange - a subtle reference to the colour of the previous concept car, the family-oriented R-Space.
Dominant throughout is the sense that the interior forms a cosy cabin which echoes the simple yet practical world of camping, and this is further reflected by extensive use of wood. Indeed, as much a symbol of warmth as it is of strength and timelessness, wood forms a link between the two modes. The leather latticework seats and removable accessories also refer to the camping metaphor.
Antoine Génin, Design Director, Interior and Colour/Materials: "Our research into materials centred on the area where the technology of industry meets the cosy softness of the family nest. This modern combination of wood and metal picks up on Renault's strategic design values of simplicity, sensuousness and warmth."
On a practical level, 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. Thanks to its practical, modular interior, Frendzy lends itself perfectly to the requirements of traders and tradesmen.
Interior designer Ana Zadnik explains: "The interior of the vehicle reflects its double identity: on the one hand, it provides a roomy, uncluttered cargo carrying space and, on the other hand, a space that's fun and interactive and which seats up to four people. The organic volumes of the dashboard and rear door panels are extruded by strikingly shaped "nozzles", which become "receptors" for accessories, which can be plugged directly into the dashboard and door panels."
The user-friendly layout of the driver's environment and tablet turn Renault Frendzy Concept into a truly interactive and communicative tool. The BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet recently launched by Research In Motion (RIM), plugged into the dashboard, has enabled the concept of an office on wheels to become reality. BlackBerry PlayBook is ultra-portable (seven-inch touchscreen, 425g in weight, measuring 130mm x 194mm x 10mm), yet it delivers advanced performance, uncompromised web browsing with support for Adobe® Flash®, HD multimedia, advanced security features and out-of-the-box enterprise support.
BlackBerry PlayBook can allow users to benefit from an effective workplace and unrestricted mobility while on the go. This makes it particularly well suited to neighbourhood deliveries and local craftsmen, for whom it is a genuine work tool, both inside and outside of the vehicle. The tablet connects directly into the centre console, ensuring perfect convenience of operation once on the move. As soon as it is plugged in, it becomes an integral element of the vehicle and configures itself into the Renault environment. Continuity of work is assured once the device is removed, and it can of course be used for all of the renowned BlackBerry PlayBook tablet features.
The device has an important role to play, too, in the customization of the vehicle as it controls the exterior screen while the vehicle is in motion and when parked, for business as well as for personal uses - pictograms illustrating life with electric vehicles, or the viewing of a film, for example.
Sensors located on each door sill log the loading or unloading of packages equipped with RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) chips containing key information such as destination address, weight and dimensions. This gives users a real-time inventory of the goods being carried in their vehicle. In addition, tradesmen can automatically calculate or re-calculate their itineraries on the basis of this information.
Like DeZir, which was unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, Frendzy is an electric vehicle. As for Frendzy's powertrain, it is the same as that of Kangoo Z.E., although the charging point - located under the Renault logo at the front of the vehicle - is identical to that on ZOE Preview.
The chief new feature of Renault Frendzy Concept as an electric vehicle is the extensive work that has gone into the sounds it produces. This work was carried out in conjunction with IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique / Musique). Electric vehicles are silent, so one of the big challenges facing Renault is customizing the sound they produce for safety reasons, notably at slow speeds.
The collaboration between Renault and IRCAM began with the creation of a sporty sound for DeZir which conveys the driving enjoyment associated with the car. In the case of Frendzy, the aim was to produce a custom sound which corresponds with the new concept car's calling as an "office on wheels".
Renault Frendzy Concept's dual personality prompted Renault and IRCAM to develop a broad range of sounds. The programme has led to a variety of sounds that are emitted both inside and outside of the vehicle to ensure that everyone can tell whether it is in business or passenger car mode, thanks simply to its sound signature.
More impressive still, it is possible to distinguish the passenger side (the world of work) from the driver's side (the world of the family) merely by the sound produced by Renault Frendzy Concept.
The life of the vehicle and its functions as a mobile office are highlighted by a diversity of sounds composed by Andrea Cera using IRCAM's Modalys software.
As he says himself: "Exploring the most informative sounds possible led me to work on variations in speed in order to express them in a clear manner. When accelerating hard, the sound becomes sharper, with a little wind noise. For deceleration phases, I added a more prominent notion of wind which provides greater scope for adapting the sound as a function of how the vehicle is being employed."