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Frankfurt show: Renault reveals Symbioz concept car

Life style: In the futuristic world occupied by Renault’s Symbioz concept car and house, it will not just be collectors and enthusiasts who park cars in their lounge rooms come the year 2030.

Renault sees people of 2030 parking ‘living room on wheels’ Symbioz in their homes

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Renault logo13 Sep 2017

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI in Frankfurt

RENAULT opened a window onto its vision of mobility in the year 2030 with the glass-domed Symbioz concept car at the Frankfurt motor show overnight, demonstrating how the French company sees vehicles could become integrated with customers’ homes.

Conceived and delivered with a similarly glassy concept house erected in the Frankfurt show hall, the functional Symbioz concept was demonstrated driving into the building and being raised on a platform to park on a roof terrace with its roof opened and the two rows of seats facing each other in a lounge-style layout.

In addition to ‘mind-off’ Level 4 autonomous driving capability, the Symbioz can still deliver a 500kW, rear-wheel-drive thrill ride from its pair of electric motors and accelerate from 0-100km/h in around 6.0 seconds in high-performance mode, or in ‘wellbeing’ comfort mode can travel up to 500km on a full charge.

Meanwhile, home and car entertainment systems are also integrated, the content being played in the Symbioz during a journey seamlessly continuing around the home after occupants exit the vehicle and vice-versa.

The car can also recognise which people are in its cabin and customise numerous settings based on their data to make sure everyone is as comfortable as possible.

Introducing the Symbioz at Frankfurt, Renault senior vice-president of corporate design Laurens van den Acker described the concept as “a living room on wheels” that is “not only moving you physically but is moving with you virtually”.

“You can access your digital life from your car wherever you are, your personal experiences move with you, your music can follow you into your car or if you are on your way home on a wintry night, the car can turn the heater on so you come home to a warm house,” he said.

The Symbioz was developed in conjunction with technology companies including LG, Ubisoft, Devialet, Sanef, Tomtom and IAV.

The way Renault has integrated a driver’s cloud-based media and preferences data to enable the vehicle to anticipate and act on their needs echoes that of the Peugeot Instinct autonomous plug-in hybrid concept that debuted at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year.

“Symbioz shows how cars can play a more integral role in our everyday lives,” Mr van den Acker said.

“Cars today already fulfil our needs to escape once in a while, to enjoy music, read, to even have a meaningful chat with your son or your daughter, you want to spend time together with your family and friends.

“What if you could extend those benefits to after you park? What if your car became simply an extension of your home.”

The electric drivetrain’s battery packs use artificial intelligence to control electricity flow between the vehicle, building and power grid, anticipating energy and driving requirements to receive charge from the building’s power supply, store off-peak or solar energy to sell it back to the grid for a profit during expensive peak power periods, stabilise supply during blackouts or provide a power boost on still, cloudy days when renewable sources are restricted.

Renault and a number of other electric vehicle manufacturers are already close to implementing Symbioz-style smart energy sharing solutions between cars, homes and the power grid.

While on the road, the Symbioz also connects with other vehicles and road infrastructure as part of its autonomous capability, which when enabled causes the dashboard, steering wheel and pedals to retract so that front occupants can rotate their seats and face rear passengers for socialising.

This layout can also be adopted when the vehicle is parked, and in the case of the Renault-designed Symbioz house, in the living room or on the roof terrace.

“The car is an extra room you can park wherever you want,” said Mr van den Acker.

“It can travel in the house … you can walk in or out of it as if it were a room, through sliding doors, seamlessly.”

With housing affordability reaching crisis point in a number of major cities, the Symbioz positively encourages the conversion of garages into extra living spaces.

“You can park it inside because it is clean, it’s electric,” said Mr van den Acker.

“You probably want to park it inside because it is beautiful, and why park such a beautiful piece of intelligent design in a dark garage when you can enjoy it inside your home.”

The Symbioz follows a long line of design concepts overseen by Mr van den Acker that each represented life stages and previewed Renault’s design direction for upcoming new models, starting with the scene-setting 2010 DeZir concept.

Renault’s design chief said the latest crop of concepts, which started at the 2016 Paris show with the electric Trezor sports coupe design study that represented an evolution of the original DeZir, “set out to explore what mobility might resemble in the future”.

“No longer can we think of car design in isolation from the ecosystem surrounding us,” he said.

Renault will create a Symbioz-inspired, road-going electric, autonomous and connected demonstration car next year to preview technologies that will feature in upcoming models between now and 2023.

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