The changes in car layout sparked by electrification have created new challenges and opportunities to keep designers busy – and Renault Group design chief Laurens van den Acker is busier than most.
The Dutchman is responsible for design at Renault, Dacia and Alpine, three very different brands that face disparate challenges when it comes to electrification. He spoke to Autocar about the future styling of all three.
You recently revealed the shape-shifting Morphoz concept. Does it preview an electric Renault crossover?
“The Morphoz announces the new CMF-EV platform, and we wanted to show off a few things. Firstly, it has great proportions. It’s flexible and modular in length. It’s lower than an SUV and taller than a hatchback. We tried to make it as compact as possible outside and as spacious as possible inside. In terms of future production cars, we always hope you recognise where they come from. We’re playing with a new lighting signature and want to keep the central sensual shapes of the current Renault line-up but give it a more technical, sharp edge [for an EV].”
Dacia recently showed the Spring Electric concept, previewing its first electric car. How close will the production version be?
“Very close. It’s no secret that it’s heavily based on the Chinese-market [Renault] K-ZE. We’re doing everything to keep the price as low as possible. Ironically, some people thought it wouldn’t be a good fit for Dacia but, in fact, it might actually be what many people are waiting for. Not everyone can afford a premium EV.”
The A110 was incredibly well received, but now Alpine has gone quiet. What’s next?
“Alpine is front and centre in our deliberations. We’ve re-established the brand with the A110. We did a pretty good job at making a car that bridges the past with the future. While we were considering our next steps over the last two years, we have had an overnight transformation of the industry because of CO2, Dieselgate and the coronavirus. We believe there is a place for Alpine. There will always be people who love a fantastic drive.”