French manufacturer lining-up new range of electric cars
7 November 2008

Renault has begun planning a range of electric cars will include a bespoke small car that’s bigger than a Twingo, a battery powered version of the Kangoo and a Megane-based saloon.

The small car will be a five-seater, with a unique design that won’t be shared with any other cars. Renault is keen to build an electric car that isn’t just a reworking of a current model, and will give the car what it describes as an ‘emotional design.’

That means a compact city car with flair and style rather than the utilitarian look that many small electric cars are currently saddled with.

The Megane-based four-door, which is primarily intended for the company’s electric vehicle venture in Israel, arrives in 2011. The Kangoo should arrive earlier. The cars are expected to feature as transport for competitors and VIPs at the London 2012 Olympics.

Renault is benchmarking the saloon’s performance from a standing start against a 100bhp 1.6-litre petrol car, although the company is keen to emphasise that the electric car’s flexibility between 30 and 70mph will be superior.

“It will be very good in urban situations,’” said the company’s Electric Vehicle Project Director, Serge Yoccoz. Its maximum speed is over 80mph, “and it will be fun to drive.”

Engineers are concentrating on the saloon’s aerodynamic performance, which brings big gains in battery conservation at higher speeds, and the thermal challenge of heating or cooling the cabin in hot or cold weather, which demands a lot of range-limiting energy.

Experimental versions of the saloon and the Kangoo presently need around eight hours to recharge for a 100-120 miles range from a home powerpoint, but Renault envisages a network of high-ampere home and work power outlets that will halve that time, as well as specific fast-charge points in the street that will cut this to 20-30 minutes.

As an alternative it’s also considering a quick battery change system that will effectively provide around 100 miles in five minutes, which competes well with refuelling a conventional car.

Every electric Renault will have satellite navigation as standard, the system able to pinpoint garages with exchange batteries availability in real time as the journey progresses. It will also be possible for owners to recharge their batteries from the mains.

Richard Bremner

Join the debate


8 November 2008

It is all very plausible that Renault are starting the development of a range of electric cars, but why didn’t they start the development a very long time ago.

It does all appear to be very strange that so much publicity is being given to this kind of vehicle when the AirCar as invented by the Frenchman Guy Negre and his company MDI doesn’t appear to get all that much press.

Negre has battled so very long and hard to develop this amazing concept through to final production stages, battling along the way world based motor manufacturers and petrochemical companies who have attempted to thwart his plans………… I wonder why ?

It is now very interesting to learn that TATA, the owners of Jaguar and Land Rover are now reported to have purchased exclusive production rights in India and Air France have recently announced they are planning to test MDI’s AirPods for six months before equipping its airports with the vehicles.

Such startling alternative and very realistic energy does make Renault’s electric efforts appear to be somewhat non descript……………..

Loving life in France with my Springers

8 November 2008

I cetainly know that someone in Israel has devloped a system in which you pull up into a filling station onto a ground level rig; You then release the battery from underneath the car and a fully charged one is placed in your car instead. The whole process is supposed to take only 1 minute. Of course you pay a fee that will hopefully will be more competetive than a full tank of petrol.

8 November 2008

Oh yes. An electric Renault. That's what we all lust after, isn't it ? Jesus bloody wept.

11 November 2008

Not sure about these battery exchange schemes. Imagine you just bought a brand new car. On your first long journey you have to exchange your empty battery for a recharged one. This turns out to be a tired 3 year old with a 40 mile range. The driver of an older car is then lucky enough to be given your new battery, which he then holds onto and recharges at home. Having just replaced the Li-Ion on my laptop after 3 years I know how pathetic older batteries can be at retaining charge, and I certainly would NOT be happy swapping new for old.

11 November 2008

The idea of the replacement scheme is that you don't own the battery. You rent it, like a mobile phone SIM in a lot of ways. You can find out all about Israel by looking here: Makes some very interesting reading if you ask me.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster 2017
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    It's the slower and cheaper of the two AMG GT Roadsters, but these adjectives are harsh given this excellent open-top's broad range of talents
  • Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster 2017
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster arrives with an upgraded chassis over the Coupé and tweaks that make it even more thrilling to drive
  • First Drive
    29 March 2017
    Sporty GT Line styling gives Kia's city car the visual lift it needs to go toe-to-toe with its European rivals, and the 1.2-litre engine does a power of good for its drivability
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110 SE Navigation
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    This is a first UK drive of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf, which comes with an updated infotainment system and a lower price. What's not to like?
  • Volkswagen Golf R
    First Drive
    29 March 2017
    A facelift for the fantastically capable all-rounder delivers more power and new tech to the cabin, improving on an already exceptional formula