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?
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.
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.)