The Renault FRENDZY from 2011 was a multipurpose vehicle which could either be used as a small commercial van for hauling assorted cargo, or as a comfortable family car.
The Renault FRENDZY has an asymmetrical layout which is designed to assist with the versatile nature of the vehicle. On the passenger side (which represents the working character of the vehicle) there’s no side windows for the rear seat passenger, instead there’s just one conventional door for the front seat passenger, and a sliding door for access to the rear. Don’t feel to bad for anybody in the rear though. In lieu of the side window is a 37-inch widescreen multifunction display.
The driver’s side is setup more for people and family use. That means everybody gets a window, and everybody gets a normal door – although the rear doors are rear hinged.
The exterior designer for the FRENDZY concept, Deyan Denkov, explains the reasoning behind the asymmetric layout: “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 the inside, the split personality of the Renault FRENDZY is clearly visible. The driver’s side cockpit is designed around the the idea of creating a ‘futuristic workbench’ which is meant to look as if it is formed from molten metal. A multitude of green lights are intended to add some life to the dash, and the lights in front of the driver also double as display screens. The Renault FRENDZY is also designed to work in harmony with a Blackberry PlayBook tablet PC which helps turn the car into an office on wheels. The tablet connects directly into the centre console, allowing ease of use while on the move. As soon as it is plugged in, it becomes an integral element of the vehicle and configures itself to work with Renault’s systems.
In the ‘family’ mode, the interior of the FRENDZY becomes warmer as the green lights turn orange – a reference to the color of the previous concept car, the family-oriented Renault R-Space.
Antoine Génin, Design Director, Interior and Color/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.”
Interior designer Ana Zadnik adds: “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 Renault FRENDZY is one hundred per cent electric powered, just like the gorgeous DeZir concept Renault unveiled at the 201o Paris Motor Show. However instead of getting the DeZir’s 147 horsepower mid-mounted electric motor, the FRENDZY has to make do with a 60 horsepower electric motor. The FRENDZY’s electric drivetrain is more or less identical to that used in the the Kangoo Van Z.E., the only significant alteration is the location of the charging socket which has been moved to the front of the vehicle, hidden behind the Renault logo.
While the idea of a dual-purpose vehicle which can assist with a busy work life – while also doubling as a family-friendly car – is something that would appeal to a large number of people, it seems that with the FRENDZY Renault’s designers haven’t quite got the balance right. It works to an extent as a mobile office, but as a family vehicle it doesn’t quite cut it.