Renault will unveil a trio of electric cars at this year’s Frankfurt motor show, including a concept car showing an all-new model that will go on sale in 2012.
Renault is remaining coy about the details of its concept car, except to say that it will be a four-metre, five-door hatchback.
Reports suggest it will be based on Renault-Nissan’s Alliance B platform, which is currently used as the basis for cars including the Clio, Modus, Micra and Cube. Nissan is expected to build its own electric car on the same platform, and show it in concept car form at this year’s Tokyo motor show.
Christian Steyer, Renault’s development chief for C-segment vehicles, said that all Renault’s electric cars would feature noticeable styling, but said the company could not risk anything too radical.
“We want a real signature for our electric range, so when people see one in the street they will know it is a Renault electric car,” he said. “The key is to do this without frightening customers away. Customers must be tempted, and not rushed too fast.
“Maybe there is room for something very radical to rewrite the design rules that can be found from electric. So far we don’t find it, though. But it is certainly possible in the future thanks to the changes and possibilities of battery technology.”
In addition to the new concept car, production-ready electric versions of the Megane saloon and Kangoo will be unveiled at the Frankfurt show and go on sale in 2011.
Renault’s charging systems will also be on display. These are it’s high-powered, quick-charge plug-in system, an overnight, home-based plug-in system and its automated ‘Quick Drop’ system, which can remove and replace a battery in three minutes.
The 'Quick Drop' system will be set up in garage forecourts and at key locations, and is expected to work in a similar way to a system developed by the Project Better Place company, which is known to have worked with Renault-Nissan. It is about the same size as a car wash, and operates automatically once a driver has placed their vehicle in teh correct position. The system is pictured here, and in our image gallery.
Steyer says that small fleet customers and commuters will drive sales of electric vehicles, and accelerate the creation of an electric charging infrastructure.
“For some car users, the economic arguments of electric cars will be too good to resist,” he said. “With the Quick Drop system there is no excuse – you can get a new battery faster than you can fill up with fuel at a pump.”