Back in the far distant past, concept EVs were fun. Y'know, full-sized toy cars and stuff—things you knew would never get made that let the design office run wild for once. Not anymore! Now, they're made to be somewhere you live and work in because we've all enjoyed being in a self-contained area these past two years. From fabulous luxury to a gamer's bedroom, don't forget: you're here forever.
Anyway, Monday afternoon thoughts aside, Nissan released four new concept vehicles with the announcement that it's finally following up on its early EV success in a big way. All of them are, like, look—when did concept vehicles stop being weird and just start being mobile lounges optimized for productivity? Bring back weird, dammit.
4.) The Surf-Out
Firstly, I gotta warn you that this isn't the worst name. The Surf-Out concept is, as you can probably gather from the renders, a beach variant pickup that's intended to off-road your way to fun activities. Yes, that's right, it's a vehicle you use to take yourself and your stuff to places. What a concept!
Nissan says it comes with a "variety of power outlets." If that doesn't get your futuristic imagination racing, it's hard to imagine what would. But this is fun; I like it. I don't know how I feel about the Surf-Out emphasizing a really smooth ride, but that might just be because my 1993 Renault Twingo would treat a perfectly smooth salt flat like going over dunes so, like memory foam mattresses, it's not something I've had a chance to get into.
3.) The Max-Out
Now, this is a fun lil two-seater convertible. What's not to like about it? It's got whatever maximum E-4ORCE is and all those TRON-style bits that oughta be sending my '80s-originating brain into soothing hypnosis.
Alright, yeah—I do like it and it's fun. You can sell me on basically anything that combines neon green and metallic greys. As what's likely to be an Infiniti-badged thing if it ever gets made, this actually does do something that's genuinely fun and absurd; just in a way that I think might not be so fun and absurd in the right way.
The Max-Out (see what I'm saying about the names?) has variable seats that you can "flatten into the floor" so the driver has more room. Now, as previously mentioned, I own a 1993 Renault Twingo and that's got a mode for flattening the seats completely, and it's not for making sure you can get the Christmas tree in a small car, if you know what I mean. I'm in my mid-30s, I don't wanna think about making out in the car just because otherwise my flatmates or my ex or the teen will hear—no, no, stop it.
2.) The Chill-Out
Has anything ever said "chill out" more than two executives standing awkwardly in front of a concept vehicle? Surely not. Anyway, the Chill-Out is the most developed of Nissan's concepts, in the sense that it's well beyond the render stage and has made an appearance as the star of the marque's EV investment announcement.
This one gets second place simply because there weren't a ton of details about it. Ironically for a concept car, and slightly chillingly, the Chill-Out is described as a "mobile haven." I guess that could mean it's a spa or something. Can't we get back to the beach stuff?
1.) The Hang-Out
I was actually really into this when I saw the first images. It's got all the hallmarks of a car I like: looked compact, kinda fun, it's green. I don't know, I guess I'm easily pleased. But then I got into reading about what this car does, which is act as kind of an underwhelmingly mundane vision of the same thing the Mini Urbanaut concept essentially nailed.
Yeah, that's right—you can go somewhere in your car and then you can, uh, hang out in your car. Ok, it might be handy for family picnics, especially as The Drive's U.K. resident where we hardly get California weather. But I don't know if I want to turn a hatchback into the place I work, rest, and play.
The perfectly flat floor of the Hang-Out means you can configure it however you like, especially with the low ride for extra headroom. And while you might be thinking that sounds bumpy, don't worry—Nissan promises it's designed to "suppress vibrations and jolts, thereby reducing instances of motion sickness and interference while working on the go."
The release also suggests "on-the-go movie nights" for that destinationless drive-in feeling. It's all very well designing family concepts for the heroes of coming dystopias but I don't know if we, yet, have to beat the sun so long as we keep moving.
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