Car Design By Grown-Ups: 2015 Daihatsu Noriori

The car magazines and the usual outlets tend to focus on sportscars and macho SUVs, all that ego-stroking machinery for the luckiest among us. Daihatsu have taken a grown-up approach with the Noriori concept.

2015 Daihatsu Noriori: caranddriver.com
2015 Daihatsu Noriori: caranddriver.com

The list of cars designed for accessibility is not a long one. Noble mention goes to Toyota’s Raum (two iterations: 1997 and 2003), the Ford Focus Mk1 (1998) and Ford Fusion (2002). Quite possibly all of the raised-ride height BMW GT cars are also accessible designs as well. The high H-point of the 3-series GT and 5-series GT is very senior-friendly. Of this list, the Mk 2 Raum is the most markedly different from the normal run of cars in terms of appearance.

These are excellent colours. The colour break-up is fun and logical: caranddriver.com
These are excellent colours. The colour break-up is fun and logical: caranddriver.com

As a quandam industrial designer with a bit of a background in accessibility, I am pleased to see Daihatsu (who often do really humane and warm-hearted cars) produce a new interpretation of design for accessibliity. It has been shown at the 2015 Tokyo Motor show

Inclusive Design from Toyota. It´s the 2006 Raum: wikipedia
Inclusive Design from Toyota. It´s the 2006 Raum: wikipedia

and is far from the most outre proposals this year. Actually, it’s not outre at all if you take as a starting point the idea that everyone is entitled to be designed for on equal terms. It’s not outre if you assume that design is about finding a rational compromise to a set of reasonably defined requirements.

The Noriori has a low floor to allow easy access for wheel-chair users. Once inside you find is a bright and cheerful interior with the feel of a lounge-stroke-sunroom. The bright green notes are welcoming. I get the feeling that if you have to be driven about as a wheelchair user, this might be a nice way to do it. Today I saw a person using an adapted van, with a door at the back and an elaborate zinc-coated lift more suited to goods than a human.

In the light of my recent reading of aesthetics, I can see that serving up lovingly-crafted design such as the Noriori acknowledges the humanity of the user. It’s no more complicated than good manners or presenting food to guests in a properly arranged way. It does not seem very likely that the Noriori is production-ready but perhaps it can serve to inspire designers -many of whom have quite pronounced wishes to do the right thing – to apply some form of this thinking to people who aren’t so lucky as to be able to hop in the car and zoom off.

An valuable question to ask of the Noriori is not whether I like it. It is to ask the intended user-group do they like it? If I have any doubts about the design as it is, it is that is demarcated too much from the mainstream. It is vastly better than a converted panel van but might, by looking different, alienate those for whom it is intended. That said, I see it as a welcome contribution to a field sadly all too limited.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

24 thoughts on “Car Design By Grown-Ups: 2015 Daihatsu Noriori”

    1. I was wondering that, though this site is an unofficial spin-off of the Focus (Mk1) Fan Club, so maybe we shall include it in every piece. “The Veyron was the direct result of Piech wanting something to go head-to-head with Ford’s newly released Focus”.

      But this piece makes an excellent point. I’m reasonably old, but lower back issues apart, not significantly incapacitated. I didn’t consciously buy my Cube because it’s easy to get in and of, but because I like space, which is reasonably free to provide, so I wonder why designers are so mean with it.

      As such my gripes about car access usually reference the fact that people would (or should) be irritated or inconvenienced by the third-class access and seating of many supposedly ‘family’ cars. They don’t take this further into those who are humiliated everyday by not being able to get into or out of a car with ease and dignity.

      Of cars that get adapted to wheelchair users, the usual suspects are the van based Berlingo/Kangoo/Doblo crowd. Yet another point I’d make in my ongoing quest to get the Multipla acknowledged as one of the finest cars designed in the past 50 years is that converters also used it as a base, giving users a more stylish (to my eyes certainly) alternative.

      Again, the Noriori appeals because it’s completely devoid of all the tired car design tropes. I dislike using public transport, but enjoy its design. The Daihatsu would give me my own personal tube train.

    2. Ford worked with Loughborough University’s ergonomics department. They designed a Third Age suit that simulated the physical effects of ageing. The car’s dimensions and interfaces were tested using the suit. There’s quite a lot of literature on the topic. It’s a case study in Inclusive Design.

  1. That maybe so Richard but I don’t see how a Focus or a BMW GT qualify as easy access… on that basis later Range Rovers manage it with dropping suspension and wider doors … amongst many others. Volvo because of their high roof in their 700 and 900 series perhaps Clearly the Daihatsu takes the van concept to a whole new level.
    As an aside SAAB actually offered a spinning drivers seat for the classic 900 as an option in the 80’s. The option would have fitted SAAB 99 as well.

    1. The Focus had a raised H-point, wider-opening doors, reduced force requirements for handles, optimised graphic contrast on the IP and large controls on the HVAC that corresponded to Fitts´Law, for example. The clever part was nobody noticed. Other cars do some of these things. Ford tried to do as many as possible in a systematic way that was supported by management. It was great CSR, I think. Credit where it´s due

    2. I’m now so intrigued by something I never knew about the Mk1 Focus that I think I’m going to flag one down so I can reassess all the elements listed by Richard. As he says, the real genius is that I have never noticed – I really like that idea.

  2. “a lounge-stroke-sunroom”

    That’s a bit like the balding middle-aged uncle trying yoof speak and missing the point entirely…

  3. Indeed, yes. Wearing my earnest hat, I think this kind of design is needed. As a designer I find it an interesting object because of its approach to the problem.
    Peugeot 1007 – was it an accessibility-themed vehicle?

    1. It definitely was – intended or not; you never know with PSA. It had a high and upright seating position which (at least around here) gave it the image of an old people’s car. That might also have contributed to its immense sales success.

  4. I like this concept very much. The colour scheme is one thing, but also the thinking away from the typical stereotypes (faster, bulkier, narrower windows) suits me perfectly. Ans as much as it looks like a piece of public transport with its doors, it still manages to look inviting not only for elderly or disabled people, but also for everyone who loves an airy place to spend one’s driving time.

    But I also share Richard’s doubts about its acceptance. Marketing it explicitly as an “easy access” car might be dangerous, as we have seen with the 1007. And I can imagine that some people rather like to cram themselves and their wheelchair into a converted standard car than be seen in something that’s immediatly recogniseable as a special purpose vehicle.

  5. I’m surprised no one mentioned the lowered suspension. Surely that suggests racing credentials?

    1. I noticed it first, but then forgot to comment about it.
      It seems that now PSA abandons hydropneumatics, they sold it to the Japanese…
      By the way, lowering the suspension for easier access is another parallel to public transportation.

  6. Here’s the Noriori launch video. My interpretation of the tagline for the car is “in boarding and disembarking, a car which makes tomorrow brighter” Noriori 乗り降り is a compound word in Japanese combining the words for boarding and disembarking a vehicle.

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