This week at the Frankfurt Auto Show, Renault unveiled a wide vision for electric vehicles being sold not just through Renault but also their partner, Nissan. According to the International Energy Agency, by 2050 CO2 emissions will have more than doubled. In 2010, there will be one billion cars on the road worldwide, compared with 100 million in 1956. Clearly by any measure the effect of “cars” on our environment is increasing every year as the number of cars are on the road. Renault claims to be a leader in low emissions cars and by showing these four concept electric vehicles they mean to provide a preview of Renault’s range of vehicles due to be released from 2011. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is targeting to be the leader in the sale of mass market zero-emission vehicles.
Twizy Z.E. Concept is an innovative response to the challenge of urban mobility. The Twizy uses an ultra-compact design of a sort which isn’t used in mass marketed vehicles. It is a two passenger vehicle where the passengers sit in tandem (one behind the other) rather than sitting next to one another. It is little larger than the two people making it extremely compact and a very rare but not unknown design style. Most notably the Tango from Commuter Cars follows a similar design. The Twizy has a range of 60 miles, top speed of 45 miles/hr, width of about 4 feet, wheelbase of about 6 feet, weight of 925 lbs, and is a pure battery electric vehicle. Clearly this is an extremely small car especially by American standards and at a guess is unlikely to be imported to the U.S. This sort of car fits well with the same sort of urban conditions that favor scooters, and it has the advantage of four wheels and a cabin for protection from the weather.
The Zoe Z.E. Concept is a larger vehicle than the Twizy but still a compact versatile vehicle for urban around town use. A primary design consideration in the Zoe is aerodynamics and the vehicle efficiency gains which result. For example it has a retractable spoiler which deploys at speeds above 55 miles/hr. Rather than rear view mirrors, rearward vision is accomplished by cameras. It has a powerful 70 kilowatt motor, giving a top speed of nearly 90 miles/hr, and a range of 100 miles. The standard battery charging method takes between 4-8 hours, a quick charge is available for a 20 minute recharge, and this car also supports a quick battery swap in three minutes. Recall that Renault is the primary partner of Project Better Place with their quick battery swap business plan.
The Fluence Z.E. Concept is genuine family car which demonstrates that attractive styling, comfort and space can go hand in hand with respect for the environment. The target audience is the “father” who uses the car to commute to his job (which begs the question of what car is targeted to the mother who commutes to her car), who occasionally drives his wife and children around town or to the country for the weekend. Hence it is meant to be a status-enhancing, ecological family car. The charging methods for the Fluence are the same as for the Zoe.
The Kangoo Z.E. Concept is based on the gas powered Kangoo already sold by Renault, hence is targeted at professionals in work or delivery uses. It has a small solar panel array on the roof to power the interior environmental system of the car. It uses of heat-reflective paint and bodywork featuring large surface areas reduces temperature fluctuations and indeed inside the body structure is an insulation system similar to a thermos bottle comprised of two insulating panels with a sandwich of air in between. The air acts as an excellent insulator serving to moderate temperature extremes between the exterior and the interior of the car.
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