Renault joins the ranks of carmakers thinking about electric vehicles here at the Paris auto show with the Z.E., a Honda Element-like concept that draws power from batteries and its greenhouse, apparently, from a crate full of those inexpensive levels you find at the Home Depot.
Renault actually has a nascent relationship with electric car plans around the world, and along with Nissan, Renault is planning some sort of electric car for release in two years. This concept may not be the final form, but it is based on an existing Renault production car: the oddly named Kangoo Be Bop.
The Z.E. gets its EV credentials from a 70-kilowatt electric motor and a set of lithium-ion batteries. An unlikely set of 21-inch wheels puts all the motor's torque to the road via a direct-drive transmission.
Renault's invested energy in reducing the Z.E.'s energy needs. The paint is heat-reflective; headlamps are low-energy LEDs. Even the mirrors have been tweaked to reduce the Z.E.'s drag in the slipstream.
Oddities of the concept include polyurethane-gel bumpers (they feel like wrist-friendly mouse pads), a charge indicator for the batteries that's lifted from cell-phone displays, and a scooter that lives in the Z.E.'s cargo area for even less energy-intensive travel.