Renault To Preview Production EV at 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show

June 18, 2009
2008 Renault Z.E. Concept

2008 Renault Z.E. Concept

The charge toward full-electric vehicles is proceeding at a snail's pace to the public's eyes, though behind the scenes at many of the world's major automakers, progress is fast and furious. Renault aims to be one of the leaders of this next wave, and will preview a production electric vehicle at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show.

It's still way too early to pin down the specifics, but Renault's development chief Christian Steyer revealed to Autocar that designers have something distinctive and eye-catching planned. Steyer sums it up simply: "when people see one in the street they will know it is a Renault electric car." Expect it to incorporate a lot of what was done with the Kangoo Be Bop ZE concept (pictured).

The flexibility of an electric drivetrain allows for many different configurations of the overall vehicle's design, giving designers even more blank canvas. That, in turn, allows the car companies to meet the consumer's desire to flaunt their environmental awareness.

When finished, the production version is expected to be a compact car - about 13 ft. long overall - but still big enough to fit a five-door hatch form factor.

A practical partner to any EV - and of interest to those following Shai Agassi's Better Place project - another one of Renault's planned unveilings includes a battery-switching service dubbed 'Quick Drop' that, much like Better Place's recently previewed system, can swap out a dead battery for a fresh one in just a couple minutes.

There have been some serious concerns about bringing such a concept to full retail profitability, but with two of the pioneers in the EV field bringing out similar products, it may have more traction than critics credit.

Also on display at the Frankfurt show will be a new mystery electric-powered concept previewing production variants of the Renault Megane sedan and the Kangoo, which are scheduled for European debut within the next few years.


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