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Renault reveals EV prototype

Plugged-in: Renault says it will start selling a ute version of the Kangoo Be Bop EV in Europe in 2011, along with a family sedan in Israel.

Shareholders get first look at van-based Renault prototype 18 months ahead of launch

11 May 2009

RENAULT this week presented a prototype electric vehicle at its annual shareholder meeting in Paris, previewing a range of new-age vehicles that will begin appearing late next year before going on sale in 2011.

Unveiling the Kangoo Be Bop ZE (for Zero Emissions) prototype in Paris, Renault admits that the technology featured “is very similar to that featured on the brand’s upcoming production electric vehicles which are currently under development”.

Renault said it would launch its first mass-market EVs in about 18 months – which suggests it will coincide with the 2010 Paris motor show – and promises they will be “affordable”.

The first two Renault EVs will be a utility version of the Kangoo Be Bop ZE that will be released initially in Europe, and a “family saloon” expected to be built on the same platform, which is being produced for Israel and its alliance with infrastructure provider Better Place.

However, the French car-maker will be beaten to market globally by its Japanese partner Nissan, which will launch its own all-electric vehicle in the US and Japan in 2010.

35 center imageRenault promises to provide a range of EVs to the market, with two new “highly innovative” models scheduled for release in 2012.

Based on the recently-launched van-based Kangoo Be Bop and a concept shown at last year’s Paris motor show, the 1591kg Be Bop ZE prototype is powered by a single 44kW motor with 190Nm of torque – considerably less than the Paris concept.

It revs to 12,000rpm, is coupled to a single-ratio reducer transmission and, like the Toyota Prius, employs a brake energy recovery system that helps top-up the battery on the move.

A 15kWh recyclable 48-module battery developed by AESC (Automotive Electric Supply Corporation) – a Nissan-NEC joint venture founded in April 2007 – is located under the dashboard to avoid compromising interior or cargo space.

Renault says the production AESC battery is expected to deliver between 80 and 100 per cent of its original capacity for six years.

Although the Kangoo Be Bop ZE has a range of only 100km, Renault claims lithium-ion battery development will see its production EVs have a “real-world” range of up to 160km.

Charging is by an industrial-style socket behind a flap at the front of the vehicle next to the left-hand headlight, with the other end of the cable having a regular domestic mains plug for home or office recharging.

A conventional recharge takes between six and eight hours, but a quick-charge function using a 400-volt three-phase socket will enable 80 per cent capacity to be reached in about 30 minutes.

In future, the quick-charge function is expected to be reduced to 20 minutes using a new universal-standard plug developed by German company RWE in association with more than 20 car-makers and energy groups.

Externally, the 3871mm-long EV is recognisable by the unusual external horizontal battery gauge on the side of the car – a feature that first appeared on the Paris show car last year, showing the charge level of the battery with a click of the central locking remote control. Of course, there’s also a charge gauge on the dashboard.

Also carried across from the show car are low-energy LED front and rear lights while aerodynamic drag is reduced by fitting full discs to the 18-inch wheels and lowering the car 20mm over the production Kangoo (to a ground clearance of 170mm).

The exterior treatment is completed by a blue colour theme, including blue-chrome Renault badges, while the interior features green trim items and seats embroidered with ‘printed circuit’ motifs.

Public test drives of the Kangoo Be Bop ZE will be available from July, when it embarks on a Europe-wide promotional, awareness and development tour.

In line with its January 2008 EV strategy announcement, the Renault-Nissan Alliance says it aims to become the leading producer of mass-market zero-emissions vehicles.

The group claims to have forged partnerships with 24 governments, city authorities and energy companies with a view to promoting the widespread use of electric vehicles across the world.

Read more:

First look: Renault ZE strikes an electric chord


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