(from Nissan Press
Release) NISSAN TOWNPOD
As our working and living situations evolve with the opportunities
afforded by the digital age, our cars must adapt to the way we
conduct our lives. Throughout the world, a new breed of entrepreneur
has emerged. Preferring to work for themselves from their own homes
or small offices, these new professionals do not work fixed hours,
or have regimented schedules. The lines between their business and
social lives are blurred, even non-existent, so their means of
personal transportation must be equally multifaceted.
Just as a white tee-shirt is usually worn casually, but can be
combined with a suit to look sharp, this genre-busting vehicle mixes
the comfort and style of a passenger car with the businesslike
utility of a commercial vehicle. Like the tee-shirt, Nissan Townpod
can be used for business or pleasure or, as is increasingly popular,
by those for whom business is pleasure.
At a glance
tool for today's entrepreneurs
Simple platform, which users can tailor to their own needs
Combines benefits of a passenger car with practicality of a
light commercial vehicle
Compact external dimensions belie generous interior space
Low, flat-floor features long sliding rear seat
Rear hinged rear doors and split trunk doors ease access in
Touch-screen display cooperates with user's PDA
Zero-emission propulsion matches modern professionals' core
Not so many years ago
the car's basic remit might have been to take a single occupant to
work five days a week, have sufficient trunk space for a weekly trip
to the supermarket and enough seats to transport a nuclear family to
the coast for a long weekend. More recently, classic sedans and
estates have evolved into hatchbacks, MPVs, SUVs and now crossovers,
all designed for particular segments of the population, but none
tailored to the specific needs of individuals who cannot be, and
indeed strive to not be, so easily pigeon-holed.
Nissan Townpod provides a simple platform, which each user can
individually tune to their own peculiar needs. Be they a musician
transporting their kit between gigs, a delicatessen proprietor
distributing their wares or an architect carrying drawings to a
client, each can adapt the interior of their Nissan Townpod using
proprietary as well as third-party sourced accessories.
Fran็ois Bancon, general manager of Nissan's Exploratory and Advance
Planning Department, elaborates, "Only they know what is essential
for their lives, so it is logical that they should be the ones who
determine the ultimate specification of their cars. For them an
off-the-shelf solution is not enough and the best-equipped people to
tailor-make their cars are themselves. What is more revealing is
that Nissan Townpod users do not appreciate stereotypes or status
symbols. For them, the ultimate status is to have no status."
Which brings us back to the functional, yet chic, but in no way
pretentious tee-shirt. Just like the Nissan Townpod.
Townpod consist of many familiar elements, yet it is different. It
employs the same zero-emission technology found within Nissan LEAF.
Charging points can be found in the nose behind an automatically
retracting cover, which appears to be backlit thanks to its electric
blue painted surrounds reflecting subtly off the car's "Stratosphere
White" body paint. Similar electric blue hints are visible behind
the door handles, number plate, the spokes of the alloy wheels and
within the headlamp pods. The car does not need to shout that it is
an EV. It more subtly suggests its ecological and economical
The headlights reflect Nissan Townpod's philosophy of stylish
utility by serving as position markers when the blue "petals" are
closed and headlights when open, while the external location of the
pods eases basic maintenance. Similarly, the semi-silvered coating
over the indicators is not just for effect. The mirror-like finish
turns them into modern reflectors when the turn signals are not in
The innovative position of the headlights also allows a coupe-esque
bonnet line, not dissimilar to Nissan Z, which feeds in to a
visor-like wraparound, blue tinted glass house, reminiscent of
Nissan Cube, while the galls to body proportions hark back to the
rat-rods of the fifties.
The car is decidedly more van-like with its split rear doors. The
rear features back lights on the right, a number plate on the
left, and a rear-door handle set into a concave surface . Viewed
from above the car's space-maximising rectangular footprint flows
into an elliptical roof, offering more graceful lines as well as
increased aerodynamic efficiency.
The rear lights are designed to reflect light like cut jewels when
not in use, and to sparkle rather than simply glow when illuminated.
Innovative hinges allow the rear doors to slide, then open in
confined spaces and then fold to the side of the car so as not to
obstruct passing traffic or pedestrians. As the rear lights are
positioned in the all encompassing rear doors a second set of
position and indicator lights is located in the bottom sill of the
doorway. A hatch-like sun roof, directly above the cargo area,
allows Nissan Townpod to carry taller objects.
The idea of simple form
following function continues within Nissan Townpod. The cargo area,
passenger space and dashboard are remarkably uncluttered yet do not
feel spartan. Just because the interior is utilitarian by design
does not mean that it cannot be stylish. The driver is faced with
an uncomplicated yet futuristic steering wheel and two familiar
stalks to operate the lights and wipers, but other than these
controls - which are beautifully simple in their own light - the
flowing dashboard is devoid of mechanical switches. Forward or
rearward drive is selected using an uncomplicated joystick set into
the right-hand side of the driver's seat base.
Dual Screen Display
All controls for
ancillaries such as climate control and media playback are accessed
through two centrally mounted digital screens. The upper monitor
serves as an instrument panel, displaying car speed, battery status
and remaining range as well as a satellite navigation system. This
system is also equipped with Bluetooth wireless technology, allowing
it to communicate with the driver's Personal Digital Assistant
Masato Inoue, Product Chief designer of Nissan, explains, "Today,
the first thing many people do when they climb aboard their car is
program the navigation unit with a phone number, address or other
details. This step will be unnecessary in Nissan Townpod as the car
will communicate with your PDA's scheduling function to find out
where you are due to be and at what time. Accordingly, the
navigation system will not only plot a route to your next meeting,
but will map out a plan for all your appointments that day. If, due
to unexpected traffic delays for example, one appointment appears
likely to clash with another, the car will let you know so you can
take appropriate action. It will also be able to suggest the most
convenient time and place for you to recharge its lithium-ion
The lower touchscreen provides all controls for the navigation
system, allows users to perform system checks on the whole car and
operates Nissan Townpod's audio system.
"Who knows how we will store music in 2020?" says Bancon. "Not so
long ago cars were fitted with cassette players, then CD players and
now we must be iPodTM compatible. This will not remain the same for
long, so Nissan Townpod must be forwards compatible with whatever
must-have device sits in our future."
Just as Nissan Townpod can connect wirelessly with the driver's PDA,
so it will also be able to access occupants personal music
collections, or what ever device they use to receive Internet radio.
"These devices may remain in passengers' pockets, but it is also
beneficial to keep them in within view, in some kind of bracket. But
we do not know what these devices of the future will look like, let
alone where passengers will want to keep them. So, we have developed
The Puck", Bancon concluded.
Access to the cargo area
from the rear is unobstructed, thanks to the ingeniously hinged back
doors, while gaping apertures on either side mean that cumbersome
loads, or wriggling toddlers, can be placed in the car with ease at
the curbside. These ultra wide doorways are possible because there
is no "B-pillar" set between the traditionally hinged front doors
and the sliding doors at the rear, with the locking mechanism of the
former set into the leading edge of the latter.
Disappearing Long Sliding Rear
The rear seat itself has
an interesting trick incorporated into its design. While it is not
uncommon to find rear seats that slide or fold, enabling passengers
to either prioritize leg room or luggage space, the ultra-slim
design of the seats means that the rear bench can fold and slide
right into the back of the front seats, freeing the entire,
flat-bottomed space behind to carry bulky cargo.
The dichotomy of having
a stylish, professional cabin coupled with utilitarian cargo
capabilities is accented by the use of soft artificial suede in
front, but super-light, yet hard-wearing blue weave in the rear. The
blue reflects Nissan Townpod's professional, businesslike
capabilities, while the yellow reminds the user that the car can be
used for fun, too.
The Puck is a rubber
ball, about the size of a squash ball, with a wide groove cut into
This groove can accommodate drink holders, cell-phone rests,
hand-bag hooks or other items Nissan or third-party manufacturers
think will be useful as the tools we use in our daily lives evolve.
The Pucks themselves slot into rounded troughs set into the car's
dashboard, doors and center console. Their position and orientation
are ultimately decided by the user, not the car's designers. "In
this way, owners can easily customize the interior of Nissan Townpod
to suit their particular needs. The system is completely open source
- we encourage individuals or other organizations to come up with
accessories to complement this platform, " Inoue said.
We have only begun to
scratch the surface of the possibilities for the system."
While Nissan Townpod has
been created with the world's entrepreneurs in mind, its appeal is
likely to go beyond this expanding demographic to new families
building their first home or retirees turning a hobby into a
business. In other words, anybody who appreciates the customizable
utility of its van-like abilities coupled with a chic and stylish
cockpit designed with the future and not just today, in mind.
"The self employed tend to have very high expectations. They need to
make the most of every investment. They will be early adopters of
the possibilities made available through the convergence of
electric-vehicle innovations and information and technology." Bancon
said. "At its core, a car is a means to transport people or goods
from one place to another as simply and easily as possible. Nissan
Townpod's design supports the essence of its function. It is a smart
car for people who demand more."
*iPod is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other