Imagine spending your workday roaming the countryside and peeking out the window to catch scenery passing by at 60 mph, instead of wasting away like a houseplant in a cubicle. It's an intriguing vision that we've seen brought to life by numerous mobile office vans, including the Brabus Business Lounge and Becker JetVan. The latest comes from Nissan and is all electric NV200 outside, modern office inside.
The Nissan NV200 van actually made its debut as a mobile workspace concept back in 2007. The new e-NV200 Workspace isn't quite as extreme as that slide-out design, but it does have a more modern look and feel all around, starting with the 106-mile (171 km) range, all-electric e-NV200 it's based on.
Working with UK-based design firm Studio Hardie, Nissan imagines businesses and employees capitalizing on free and low-cost charging to make the van a cost-saving office space, citing a 36 percent global rise in co-working and hot-desking spaces in 2015. It reckons you could park at a convenient charging station, say in an urban center, and use your van in place of an expensive office. If you're not tied to a specific location, you could also use it to work remotely from somewhere you like better.
Wherever you park the Workspace, the workday might feel a little less grinding with fresh air breezing in through the open sliding side doors and split load doors. A pull-out deck even brings work outside, adding a place to take a call. For tasks that pull occupants farther away, a Brompton folding bike mounted to the rear load door provides a way to cruise around dense urban centers without having to relocate the whole office.
The connection with the outdoors remains intact when the doors close thanks to a panoramic glass roof. A smartphone-controlled LED lighting system brightens things up with a variety of color options.
The e-NV's 148 sq ft (4.2 cu m) load bay transforms into an office with two leather-and-chrome desk chairs anchored to the oak wood flooring by custom mounts. The chairs can be secured side by side, a wooden console separating them. The console has a wireless smartphone charging dock, Bluetooth speaker and slide-out refrigerator. One of the chairs can also be mounted at the fold-down desk on the side, where one has access to a touchscreen computer with wireless mouse and keyboard, along with neatly-stored office supplies.
Nissan and Hardie skip the Keurig, popular in other van conversions, and go for a much more stylish espresso machine on the wall opposite the desk. We imagine this solution will make better coffee, and it definitely adds to the decor. A mechanical lift lets it lower into the console below when not in use. An overhead storage locker houses the rest of the equipment needed to brew espresso and froth up cappuccinos.
"With property prices in our capital cities at such a premium and the modern professional needing to be ever more mobile, businesses will need to think smart and consider what the workplace of the future looks like," explains Gareth Dunsmore, Nissan Europe director of electric vehicles. "With hot-desking and remote working on the rise, it is not too big a leap to see a future where our vehicles will become connected, energy efficient, mobile workspaces and the e-NV200 Workspace project could become more than just a concept."
We'll see if that comes to fruition, but we think it's safe to say this particular NV200 concept won't be a part of it, at least not exactly as designed. The new Workspace has some details that weren't even a second thought when the 2007 NV200 concept was created. Not only were we not charging our phones wirelessly back then, but touchscreen-based smartphones were just starting to gain a foothold. A lot has changed in less than a decade and that change is only quickening now.
A future NV200 office van may be able to autonomously drive occupants to and from meetings based upon a connected appointments calendar, offer back-up power for the main office via a bioethanol fuel cell, run errands like coffee pickups via integrated drone, or do some things we haven't even thought of yet.
The video below provides a closer tour, as does the photo gallery.
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