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Renault ZE concept - Paris motor show news - 2008

OK, most of the electric cars here in
Paris are hideous, plastic monstrosities, but here’s a proper effort from
Renault that, despite its slightly cartoonish looks, might be one of the most
important cars in the show.

It’s called the ZE concept - short for
Zero Emissions - and is, according to Renault chief designer Patrick Le
Quement, a near-perfect blueprint for future electric vehicles.

So what does that mean? Well, Le Quement
reckons that there’s an optimum size and footprint for electric cars, and that
the ZE is very close to it - ‘maybe a tiny bit too tall’, he says.

Which, slightly worryingly, means we could
all be driving cars that look worryingly like day-glo Renault Kangoos in a few
years’ time. Hmmm.

That day-glo-ness, by the way, is all to
do with keeping heat out of the ZE’s interior. Climate control is one of the
biggest drains on electric power, so the acid green tinted glass keep heat out,
while the bodywork is comprised of two insulating panels which works like a
Thermos flask to keep the interior from getting too hot or too cold. Solar
panels on the roof power a temperature regulation system. Neat, eh?

The ZE is powered by a 94bhp electric
motor mated to a lithium ion battery pack. No word on how far you’ll get on a
single charge, but Renault has thoughtfully included an electric scooter in the
boot - which charges from the car’s batteries - so you can get around when you’ve
got to where you want to go. If that makes sense.

So there y’go. Proof that not all the
electric cars in Paris are total rubbish. Just the vast, vast majority of them.

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