Japanese brand to show underwater photographer’s van
24 July 2007

There are still three months to go until the Tokyo motor show, with its peculiar mix of exotic, extravagant and esoteric metal. Yesterday, however, Nissan gave us an advance peek at one of the concept cars that will appear on its Tokyo stand; in true Japanese show style, it’s an outlandish minivan-cum-MPV with a number of “unique features”. And odder still, it’s been designed specifically for underwater photographers.

The ideal platform for sub-aqua snappery

For now, this sketch is all we can show you of the NV200 concept. It has been styled at the Nissan Design Centre in London, and it’s roughly the length of a Citroen Berlingo, but significantly taller. Its most novel feature is a large “storage pod” that slides out of the rear of the vehicle when it’s parked. As the pod slides backwards, small feet emerge from underneath it to maintain its stability on the ground. The pod itself is compartmentalised into dry and wet areas, providing storage for diving and photographic equipment. There is even a small fridge and sink unit within it, powered by solar panels mounted on the car’s roof. With the pod deployed, the centre of the vehicle is transformed into a mobile office with an integrated computer; the passenger seat slides backwards and swivels to serve as an office chair. The interior trim choices are intriguing, with the extensive use of bright yellow plastics and a wood laminate floor. “The wood is designed to provide a feeling of warmth for the photographer when he returns from his dive,” says the concept’s senior colour designer, Vanda Murray.

Isn't it a bit of a fishy brief?

So isn’t targeting the underwater snapper limiting this car’s market appeal slightly? Well, remember that this is a concept car; its job is to engage your interest more than appealing to your real world sensibilities. The NV200’s exterior was styled by Nissan Europe’s Senior Designer Martin Uhlarik, who can claim the Nissan Evalia concept and the interior of the original Skoda Fabia among his credits. “We brainstormed all the likely users of a vehicle of this type and decided to focus on the underwater photographer because they’re in touch with nature, and their equipment has a high-tech but utilitarian appeal,” Uhlarik explains.“It’s also exotic – if we’d designed a bread van, we wouldn’t get so much attention.”Uhlarik is confident that the pod concept could be adapted to suit different applications. “It’s mainly targeted at urban dwellers and blurs the distinction between a vehicle for professional and personal use. It could be used for milk delivery, by a florist, or as a mobile coffee shop. It could even be used as a camper, with the work area turned into a bedroom.”Although the NV200 is only a concept, it does offer a clue to the styling of Nissan’s next generation of light commercial vehicles. The company will launch a series of new models in the next of couple of years in a bid to increase its market share. Nissan’s corporate vice president for light commercials, Andy Palmer, claimed that Nissan will be “a global leader in the field by 2010”.

Alistair Weaver

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