Video games have become so realistic, some say, that it can be hard to distinguish between actual life and virtual life. A concept car developed...
Video games have become so realistic, some say, that it can be hard to distinguish between actual life and virtual life.
A concept car developed by Nissan North America and Microsoft blends the two worlds even more, the companies said Wednesday.
The Nissan Urge roadster comes with an Xbox 360 video-game console loaded with the high-speed driving game “Project Gotham Racing 3.”
To play, a person just needs to sit in the driver’s seat. The controllers are the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, while a 7-inch liquid crystal display screen drops from the rearview mirror.
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Don’t get too excited or concerned. The car may never hit the streets, and the game can only be played when the car is parked.
Sound fun? Maybe for a guy in the 15-to-25 age group. That’s the target market for the Urge — a guy who knows all about cars from playing racing games, but chooses something like a used pickup when it comes to purchasing one, said John Cupit, a design manager with Nissan Design America.
“They don’t see anything they want,” Cupit said.
Nissan conducted an online survey of 2,000 people to find out what they did want in a car.
Turns out young women are pretty happy with the cars available now, Cupit said.
But young men wanted high-tech cars that adapted to their video-gaming, iPodding, cellphone-talking lifestyles.
The young men also said that though they preferred a car, they liked the look of motorcycles better.
Armed with that data, Nissan set out to build the perfect boy toy, a task that took about a year.
The result was the Urge, which on the outside has the flashy, metallic va-va-voom appeal of a motorcycle.
The inside is fairly bare-bones — in keeping with the suggested $20,000 price tag — except for the Xbox 360 and the flip-down monitor tucked into the rear-view mirror.
Nissan visited Microsoft’s campus in October with the idea of partnering on the car.
It didn’t take long for the Xbox team to get hooked.
A few of Microsoft’s engineers have been in constant conversation with Nissan’s engineers since then, said David Hufford, who works on the Xbox marketing team at Microsoft.
“It really tapped into the primal instincts of our shared target audience,” Hufford said. “That audience is looking for really intense experiences that are embodied in the Urge concept.”
The Urge is still exactly that — a concept.
Although Nissan does not plan to market anything that looks like the Urge, some of its features could be used on a future youth-oriented sports car, said Nissan spokesman Fred Standish.
Nissan is to unveil the roadster at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 9. From there, it will take the car to more shows around the world to drum up interest.
Installing the latest entertainment gadget on wheels is a staple in the auto business. Car radios date to the 1920s.
The 1950s Chrysler offered a phonograph under the dashboard. Today, DVD players and MP3 digital music player hookups are found in many vehicles.
The lightweight aluminum and carbon-fiber Urge was designed in San Diego and hand-built by Metal Crafters in Fountain Valley, Calif.
The concept car has an open “T” roof reminiscent of the Pontiac Trans Am and Chevrolet Camaro of the 1970s, plus a folding canvas cover in case of rain.
And perhaps Nissan can address another concept as well.
After virtual racing at breakneck speeds in a video game, can drivers behave themselves on real-life roads?
“It kind of alters your reality a little bit,” Cupit said. “Maybe that’s all I should say about it.”
Material from the Los Angeles Times is included in this report.
Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or at firstname.lastname@example.org