FORUM: Nissan's advanced mini-van design concept
December 21, 2007 In a further exploration of the theme of automobile as communal space displayed by the Round Box Concept shown in Tokyo this year, Nissan will unveil the FORUM concept at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. An exploratory design concept developed by Nissan Design America, Inc. (NDA), the FORUM integrates a number of design features and communications technologies aimed at creating a family-friendly environment including trackless sliding side doors, the elimination of traditional B-pillars, versatile second row "Turntable Seating", an advanced Bose® Media System, multi-camera external monitoring, a built-in microwave and a "Kids Cam" monitoring system which allows adults to keep an eye on back seat mayhem via 2nd and 3rd row cameras mounted in the headliner and connected to the main instrument panel LCD display.
The ability for parents to get their message across is further enhanced by the one-button audio muting "Time Out" system which simultaneously stops all audio playing and allows the driver's voice to be broadcast over all interior speakers.
The adjustable seating configuration combined with pillar-less side doors enables "grandstand" seating for watching sports or for picnicking and also gives the FORUM the flexibility required to haul large objects and other gear. The motor-driven second row seat also rotates a full 180 degrees to face the three-passenger rear seat, creating family-style seating for up to five passengers. When the seat is moved the center console lifts up and the two seat halves come together while the two front seats move forward to aid in clearance.
Looking to build on the basic "box" layout, the FORUM Concept designers have aimed for an aggressive front end appearance enhanced by the vehicle's wide stance, high beltline, wide six-spoke alloy wheels, low-profile tyres and dual exhaust outlets.. The omission of B-pillars has been achieved through through use of extra thick reinforced roof and door frames and the trackless sliding side door design is made possible by a special patented hinge system. There's also sunshades built into the moonroof panels that add comfort to the interior on hot days.
Inside the FORUM features a "floating" instrument panel design dual climate controls, Bluetooth® wireless technology and mood lighting under the upper and lower console areas. The built-in console-mounted microwave is sized to fit a standard bag of microwave popcorn and can be reached from both the front and center seats and if that sounds messy - the easy to clean one-inch thick 100 percent wool carpet might come in handy.
The Bose® Media System uses a single knob proximity sensor-based controller to help the driver stay focussed on the road. Simply waving a hand near the controller triggers infrared sensors to bring up the initial system interface for access to XM® Satellite Radio, hard disc drive music storage, DVD, iPod® interface, Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System and an advanced navigation system.
FORUM also employs Nissan’s advanced Around View Monitor (AVM) system, found in the new 2008 Infiniti EX35. The AVM system includes front, side and rear-mounted cameras and an advanced controller that combines the images together to give the driver a unique view of all four sides of the vehicle – helping to reduce driver blind spots when parking.
State-of-the-art audio is provided by the Bose® SeatCentricÔ system, which includes headrest and seatback speakers with independent audio programming for all three rows and when picnicking, the Bose® FreeSpace® outdoor audio system kicks-in with speakers mounted on the trailing edges of the sliding doors and a wireless media player controller.
A clean diesel or other environmentally sensitive powerplant is designated for the FORUM Concept but will not be installed in show vehicle.
“From a conceptual standpoint, FORUM is closer to a family limousine than the minivans Gen Xers have grown up with. But unlike a real limo – or sometimes traditional minivans – the FORUM driver is just as important as the passengers,” said Rachel Nguyen, director, Advanced Planning and Strategy, Nissan North America, Inc. “It offers a sophisticated space for adults and an engaging space for children – allowing both groups to enjoy themselves in their own individualistic ways while being connected in one vehicle. Like every Nissan, this dramatic FORUM Concept combines passionate driving, emotive design and an abundance of advanced, user-friendly technology.”