Why Nissan Built Realistic Inflatable Versions Of Its Most Popular Cars

Earlier this week I was in Yokohama, Japan, at Nissan's GRANDRIVE test track, when I saw something amazing. An entire new line of cars developed by Nissan, and constructed via a radically new method. We weren't here to test these cars, but I was lucky enough to snap some photos. As you can see, they resemble current Nissan and Infiniti models, but utilize an incredible super-superleggera pneumatic construction method.

Pliant, rubbery, with opaque windows, non-functional lights or any equipment, and an interior filled exclusively with a special 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen compound Nissan engineers call "air", these represent the future of advanced motoring, and I couldn't be more excited.

The last time I saw anything this awesome was at a recent child's birthday party, where I saw the future of castle construction. But why is Nissan planning for a bouncy future?


Why Nissan Built Realistic Inflatable Versions Of Its Most Popular Cars

Okay, I grudgingly admit I'm kidding. I know you were all fooled, so I humbly apologize. These are actually pretty terrific in their own way. When testing new hazard-avoidance systems, you want something that looks to the car's camera and robot brain like a car, but doesn't, you know, hurt so damn much if you run into it. Hence the full-size inflatable cars.

These were made to look like Nissan vans and Infiniti G35s, and from a distance they're surprisingly convincing. They have separate tires and mirrors and everything. When we pulled into the center, at first glance I thought they were some odd prototypes, and immediately started asking if I could see and photo them. When I learned they were balloons, I wasn't really disappointed, since these are exactly the kind of fun details of the hidden world of automotive development normal folks don't usually get to see.


Why Nissan Built Realistic Inflatable Versions Of Its Most Popular Cars

I think they should sell these. My son would have a hell of a good time on a giant bouncy car. Come to think of it, I would too, but I'm a responsible adult, so I'd drive my car into one, and watch all the surrounding people's faces as my Beetle sends a G35 bouncing across a Target parking lot.

(Full Disclosure Nissan wanted me to check out some of their new tech so badly they flew me all the way to Yokohama, Japan. I will look at their new tech, right after they let me drive their awesomely weird JDM cars.)