Renault has launched what it calls the fourth step in Renault's new design strategy that mirrors the "stages of the human life cycle".
Following 'love at first sight’ expressed by DeZir; discovering the world with Captur; and starting a family with R-Space; Renault says Frendzy represents the world of work. Which is to say, it's a van.
The concept reflects a trend among notionally commercial vehicles such as the Citroen C3 Picasso that blend the functionality and interior space of vans with the comfort, design and handling of passenger cars. Citroen released the Tubik concept at Frankfurt - an update on the 'leisure van' concept.
Renault says the Frendzy is a commercial vehicle that doubles up as a comfortable family car. It's powered by an electric motor and includes whizzy gadgetry and kit such as a BlackBerry PlayBook that controls a 37-inch digital screen on a sliding rear door, a fabric roof adapts to shape of bulky objects, magnetic fixings allow loads to be secured to floor, a touch-sensitive pad for gaming and two colour ambient lighting settings to differentiate family and work time.
The Frendzy's driver side, with side windows and centre opening doors, represents the world of the family; while the passenger’s side of the Frendzy does away with glazing or a centre pillar, instead featuring one conventional door and one sliding side door which incorporates a 37-inch widescreen display; it represents the world of work.
More practically, sensors can log the loading or unloading of packages equipped with RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) chips - providing a real-time inventory of the goods being carried in the vehicle.
Exterior designer, Deyan Denkov said the car's schizophrenic nature was inspired by unconventional aircraft such as the Airbus Beluga and the Antonov 224.
In the rear is a big bench seat where children can watch a film or play games on the touch-sensitive pad which slides out from the back of the driver’s seat; the Frendzy even has a "blackboard-style slate" integrated into the sliding door for rather more prosaic pastimes.
The Frendzy's powertrain is lifted from the Kangoo Van Z.E., which goes on sale in the UK before the end of the year, and represents the French manufacturer's push into electric powertrains for vans and passenger cars.
Renault has included the fruits of its work with IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique / Musique) on making a sounds that can be used on its electric vehicles to warn pedestrians of the car's presence on roads. Needless to say the Frendzy has a variety of noises that represent work and leisure.
Renault has led the European light van market for the past 13 years and will look to capitalise on its early start with the Kangoo ZE. As a result elements of the technology and design from the Frendzy will make their way into commercials and passenger cars.
The new Renault Twingo is the first to benefit, borrowing styling cues showcased by the brand's recent concept cars - the Frendzy, Captur, Dezir and R-SPace.
The Twingo boasts a larger Renault diamond among a restyled front and rear end promises more character and more use of colours. The new city car will go on sale in early 2012.
Renault has also debuted two new powerplants at Frankfurt: the Energy TCe 115 petrol engine and the Energy dCi 110; two engines built for low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions without losing performance.