03 October 2008

Cartoon concept

In the future, we shall all be driving day-glo electric Kangoos...

Renault ZE concept

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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