The life of the Nu-Age, the concept presented in Beijing by OuShang, one of the Changan group’s four brands, began with a little drawing that seems to have been done by a child: under a glittering sun we see a beach umbrella under which there is a chair for an elderly person, while the chair for adults is without shelter; in the middle is a space where children can play. The idea was to create a car that would reflect the needs of the new extended Chinese family which Changan’s designers have studied in depth. The Nu-Age, which can be read as in French (nuage, cloud: “The shape of the exterior”, says Chen Zheng, “looks just like a cloud”) or English (new age: “A new form, a new language for OuShang”), reflects that drawing.
The beach umbrella, explains Chen Zheng, who is Global Design Chief of the Chinese carmaker, is to be found at the back of the cabin, where a web of wood provides protection from the light of the large window and the leather-covered armchairs guarantee maximum comfort to the grandparents. The adults sit in front, the children in the middle on two round jump seats that open to become comfortable seats. “This”, says Chen Zheng, “is a car for the future; but a future that is not too far away”. Enough, in any case, to “change the image of the brand, which until now has produced essentially minivans, and define its future in terms of design language”.
Because this “cloud” is just the beginning: “It reflects a scenario of the new Chinese society”, Chen says. “Next time round we will face another scenario”. In the meantime, it meets the two key requirements of the future: electric motors and autonomous driving. Jaromir Cech, Project Design Director, who worked closely with Exterior Manager Matteo Krzanowski, comments: “Traditional cars have three volumes: engine compartment, passenger compartment and luggage compartment.
Everything is different in the Nu-Age. The motors are in the hubS of the four wheels. Then in the future of self-drive cars there is no need for a boot because that too can be autonomous; for example it could take the form of a trolley that is towed by the car. So the whole space is given over to the passenger compartment, namely to the family”.
Where we would expect to find the boot, in fact, there is a pull-out table for picnicking. “Inside”, adds Chen, “a centre table runs through the entire car and acts as a unifying element for the family. And there’s more: “On the roof a small drone gives a sense of protection and confidence because it can detect line-backs or accidents on the road and thus reduces driver anxiety. They are not the only intelligent “oddities”. When the car is stationary, the lower part of the doors folds out, widening the floor. “The Nu-Age”, says Cech, “communicates the brand’s new DNA, which has left tradition behind it”.
“Even the interiors”, explains Interior Manager Simone Tironi, who worked with Interior Project Leader Francesco Cundari, “reflect a new, pure and clean design language. Honest materials, from the felt on the floor to fabrics and leather. When the doors open it is like being in a room. In autonomous driving mode, even the instruments disappear completely”.
(Full article in A&D no. 232)