Renault’s electric Frendzy includes RIM Playbook, external 37” screen

I am not a motoring journalist, but this is a car I would like to review. Renault’s Frendzy, which will be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, has several notable features:

1. It’s electric

2. An asymmetric design in which the passenger’s side represents business, and the driver’s side leisure.

3. An external 37” widescreen display embedded into the passenger side door, which is a sliding affair with no window.

4. A dock for the RIM Playbook.

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The Playbook does obvious things like navigation, but also more than that:

As soon as it is plugged in, it becomes an integral element of the vehicle and configures itself into the Renault environment. Continuity of work is assured once the device is removed, and it can of course be used for all of the renowned BlackBerry PlayBook tablet features.

The device has an important role to play, too, in the customization of the vehicle as it controls the exterior screen while the vehicle is in motion and when parked, for business as well as for personal uses – pictograms illustrating life with electric vehicles, or the viewing of a film, for example.

says the release.

5. RFID sensors in the door sills. If you are delivering goods that have RFID chips, you can have a truly intelligent courier service. The packages can inform the vehicle of their destination, talk to the navigation system to display the route, and I presume could even raise the alarm if you drove away from the destination having forgotten to deliver parcel 3 of 3.

All cool; and I have not even mentioned the interior lighting can be switched from green for work to orange for leisure.

At the same time, I have some questions.

I am not sure whether giving the driver easy access to a full-featured tablet is wise, as I would rather he concentrated on driving rather than posting messages to Facebook or engaging in the latest MMORG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game).

It also seems a bit of a waste having the 37” screen external. I can see the sense for advertising, though having the screen on the side means it will be more visible to pedestrians than to other motorists, and is even 37” really big enough to get a message across at the kind of distance that will be typical? Renault says:

… a large external screen that can display useful messages or information (such as “making deliveries” or “back in five minutes”, the battery-charging method or the remaining charge) or advertising messages, either whilst parked or on the move.

I am not sure that I really want to tell the world how low my battery is.

The one thing you cannot do with the external screen is watch a film on it, unless you park and have a picnic I guess, though not to worry:

Depending on their mood of the moment, children can watch a film or play games on the touch-sensitive pad which slides out from the back of the driver’s seat. They can even draw on a special slate integrated into the sliding door.

Finally, I am amused by the trouble Renault has taken with the sound scheme – yes, since electric vehicles are inherently silent but need to make a noise for safely reasons, even the sound has a personality:

FRENDZY’s dual personality prompted Renault and IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique / Musique) to develop a broad range of sounds. The programme has led to a variety of sounds that are emitted both inside and outside of the vehicle to ensure that everyone can tell whether it is in business or passenger car mode, thanks simply to its sound signature.

More information on the Frendzy is here.

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