(from Nissan Press
Release) A typical small van is little more than an empty
box on wheels: functional, certainly, but seldom innovative or
smart. But designers from Nissan Design Center (NDC) in Japan and
Nissan Design Europe in the UK had other ideas. In creating NV200,
the joint team have devised a concept that could revolutionise the
small van market.
"A commercial vehicle has a specific job to perform, but that's no
reason to design a purely rational vehicle with no warmth. In NV200,
function becomes the aesthetic. NV200 is a highly efficient tool but
one with a human touch."
Shiro Nakamura, senior vice president and chief creative officer at
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
At a glance
Mobile office and
van in one unique package
Sliding cargo 'pod' extends to reveal...
... IT workspace and living quarters
Concept inspired by professional diver
marine biologist and underwater photographer Dr Alex Mustard sets
off on an expedition, he takes with him a mountain of equipment.
He needs underwater cameras and lights for his photography plus
scuba diving equipment such as wet suits, flippers, masks, air tanks
and breathing apparatus. He even takes an underwater scooter for
recognisance trips beneath the surface.
He carries with him computer equipment for downloading his digital
images once he resurfaces and he needs mobile communication
equipment to send the images to clients or research centres.
Naturally he needs a change of dry clothes and if he is planning on
being out on an expedition for more than a few hours, he needs food,
water and perhaps somewhere to sleep.
In fact, he takes enough gear to fill a small van. And he would
benefit enormously if that van could double as a mobile office.
As far as Dr Mustard is concerned such a vehicle has been nothing
more than a dream... until now. One of the stars of Nissan's stand
at October's Tokyo Motor Show is the NV200, a concept for an
entirely new sort of small van that answers all the marine
By having no pre-conceived ideas about what form NV200 should take,
the joint design team from Japan and the UK has developed a radical,
futuristic, but entirely practical new concept.
In Japan, the team was led by Ryoichi Kuraoka, Product Chief
Designer. In the UK, the team was led by Stephane Schwarz, design
director of NDE, exterior designer Martin Uhlarik and interior
designer Hironori Oyama. And although developed to answer one user's
very specific requirements, the basic concept has serious potential
for all manner of different customers.
From the outside, NV200 is the epitome of a modern van. A
cab-forward design, the wraparound grille blends into upswept swage
lines on either side of the cabin. Dramatically rising side windows
accentuate a high waistline and underline the van's practical, load
carrying ability. NV200 sits on a usefully long 2820mm wheelbase and
is 1840mm tall, providing a practical, roomy load space.
But it's the details that really count. At the heart of NV200 is a
patented sliding cargo pod which is divided into a number of
separate areas into which different pieces of diving and
photographic equipment can be stored.
"We wanted to create a flexible toolbox for professionals," says
Schwarz. "NV200 is practical and functional but aesthetically
pleasing at the same time."
The pod is latched inside the shell of the load area when the van is
being driven. But upon arrival at its destination, it slides out
rearwards to allow easy access to the storage zones. The pod is
deployed manually with the aid of hydraulic rams, and sits securely
on integrated 'drop-down' legs when fully extended.
As well as housing diving gear in separate 'wet' lockers, the pod
holds four air tanks and there's an area specially shaped to hold
the underwater scooter securely. Lockable roller blinds protect the
contents, while valuable camera equipment can be accessed either
from within NV200 or from outside the pod.
As the pod is withdrawn from the van, the area left behind is
transformed into a mobile office and IT dock. A computer table drops
down from the side of the van to reveal two LCD screens upon which
images can be edited. The front passenger seat swivels backwards on
a single curved rail to face the table.
A shockproof briefcase made from rugged ribbed plastic houses a
laptop. When not in use, it docks into a side of the van beneath the
worktable. A magnetic clipboard is attached to the opposite wall of
the workspace, while moveable storage boxes are mounted in all three
Natural light for the work surface comes from a small side window
above the bank of screens and from a large domed skylight in the
roof of the van. In tropical climates, the skylight can be diffused
to prevent a build up of heat within the interior.
The end of the pod facing the inside of the van - it forms a
bulkhead behind the front seats when the pod is not deployed - has
hanging space for dry clothes. It also houses a small refrigerator,
an extending sink unit and first aid kit. NV200's tanks hold enough
water to supply a shower, fitted on the outside of the pod, to allow
diving equipment to be washed after use.
Power for the computer, shower, 'fridge and other electrical
fixtures comes from a small generator housed within the van. This,
in turn, is charged by solar panels situated on the roof of the pod.
When the pod is deployed, the solar panels are directly exposed to
daylight. But even when the pod is pushed back into the van, the
panels line up beneath the skylight. In this way, power can be
generated in daylight hours whether the vehicle is stationary or
A two-man tent - accessed from outside NV200 - is housed at the base
of the B-pillar behind the driver's door, while fillers for fuel and
water are housed within the opposite B-pillar. The driver and
passenger doors open conventionally, while access to the workspace
is via a single sliding door on the passenger side.
The cockpit area reflects form and function. The skeletal aluminium
seat frames are covered in a washable contoured material similar to
the fabric used in sports shoes, with a 3D texture for extra grip.
Large open storage areas run the width of the van beneath the
instrument panel and control cluster. Sensors within the storage
zones detect movement and illuminate the entire area as soon as a
hand or an object is placed in or near the shelves.
With no centrally mounted rear view mirror needed, its location has
been filled by a small colour TV screen. A rear-facing camera - a
familiar Nissan feature that up until now has been used as solely a
reversing aid - projects the view behind the van to the screen at
Above the front seats is a glass panel incorporating a wave pattern.
It bathes the interior in a diffused light, while any outside
movement casts shadows in the cabin that resemble life under water.
On either side of the panel are two forward-facing glazed holders
into which high-powered professional underwater torches can be
slotted. When parked, the torches provide a floodlit area ahead of
Most the materials, textures and colours used throughout NV200
reflect the materials, textures and colours used in the diving
world. The exterior has a scratch resistant matt satin finish in a
steel grey colour to emphasise the 'toolbox' nature of the project.
Interior materials are either hardened lightweight plastics or
rubberised fabrics finished in a dark grey with acid yellow
highlights. The glass is also tinted yellow.
Underwater and organic references can be found all over NV200. The
purpose-made 20in alloy wheels feature have six 'arms' that appear
to grip the tyre itself, octopus-fashion. The tread pattern on
Goodyear's tyres - also specially created for NV200 - incorporate
octopus suckers onto a trainer-style sole.
Inspiration for the translucent ribs of the wraparound grille also
came from underwater creatures while the design of the tail and
indicator lenses reflect layers of an onion. Liberal use of warning
signs and instructions found on the exterior of NV200 were borrowed
from the practical graphics found on diving equipment.
The designers in the UK have allowed themselves one small visual
joke. Opening the sliding door reveals the legend 'Mind The Gap' on
the step up into the work area... a reference familiar to anyone
using London's Tube network.
Perhaps the only area not directly influenced by the ocean, is the
wooden floor of NV200. This is finished in a hardwearing but
entirely natural ebony, bringing a touch of warmth to an otherwise
Although the NV200 has been designed to suit the specific needs of
one user, the principle behind the concept has wide ranging
potential. The team has identified mobile libraries, greengrocery
stores, florists and even field ambulances among possible users of
"Although NV200 might, at first glance, appear to be a flight of
fancy, the more you study its potential the more you realise it is
an entirely practical and feasible project," says Nakamura.
"Nissan prides itself on designing its cars to fulfil the needs and
requirements of its customers. For NV200 we have taken that guiding
principle quite literally and created a vehicle for one specific
customer. But it is a totally adaptable and flexible concept that
could have applications in a number of areas of the market," he
And the verdict from Dr Mustard, the man around whom the concept was
created? "Perfect... just perfect. It even answers needs I hadn't
realised that I had. I only have one question: when will NV200 be
put into production?" he says.
NV200 also features an environmentally friendly clean diesel engine.
It is equipped with a number of safety systems based on Nissan's
*Safety Shield concept, including Back View Monitor and Distance
Control Assist System.