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.