Mike Stevens | Mar 8, 2009

Renault is about to join the electric revolution in a big way. The bright sparks at the French firm are considering not just one electric vehicle, but a full suite of electron-powered models are apparently in the pipeline for the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

The electric vehicles will be more than just stationary show-stand fillers to give the company a green tinge; Renault is promising the first cars will be drivable before the end of this year.

Renault’s Chief of Design, Patrick Le Quément, revealed that the first of the EV range will be based on a soon-to-be-launched petrol-powered model, most likely the update of the Clio hatch. Other EV’s to follow will be clean-sheet designs.

“Designing electric cars is a completely new challenge,” Le Quément said. “Factors such as the positioning of the power packs and the need for a reduced glass area mean conventional-looking designs simply don’t work.”

Renault also looks set to make a dramatic change to the way people buy and operate their EVs. The idea is to make an electric vehicle cheaper than its petrol equivalent. To do this Renault will sell the car without the expensive battery packs included.

Under the intriguing Renault plan, owners will then lease battery packs, although details about the projected cost of leasing has not yet been outlined. Special charging stations will be set up, allowing owners to re-charge or even swap a depleted battery pack for a fully-charged one.

Good thinking.


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