Frankfurt Motor Show: Renault Kangoo ZE Concept breaks cover

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 29, 2009

This Renault Kangoo Z.E. Concept is definitely made to fit the lifestyle and daily driving needs of customers living in urban and sub-urban areas. For instance, with dimensions of 3.95 meters (length) and 1.85 meters in height, the Kangoo Z.E. Concept is nimble and agile enough to drive in and through urban areas.

It features a sizeable amount of torque at 226Nm that is available at all times, allowing drivers to accelerate anytime they want in built-up areas. This new concept from Renault aims to provide a glimpse of a possible future of mobility for professional road users – like urban-based transporter and delivery companies – while featuring the same attributes of the Kangoo in terms of space, safety and comfort.

Cargo loading is easier on the Kangoo Z.E. Concept, thanks to its hatch-type rear door and wide folding sill that allows users to easily slide their loads into the boot. As is an electric vehicle, the Kangoo Z.E. Concept has been designed to minimize energy consumption while still featuring modern comfort-related elements. For instance, Renault used heat-reflective paint and bodywork with large surface areas to reduce temperature fluctuations.

The concept's bodywork has been designed to work like a Thermos flask -- two insulating panels sandwiching a pack of air in between. The air between the panels is used to moderate temperature extremes between the exterior and the interior of the concept car. Renault also optimized thermal insulation through a special treatment of the glazed surfaces, thereby giving the car's climate control and heating systems – which consumes lots of energy -- less work to do.

Moreover, the French carmaker installed solar panels on the roof to provide power to a temperature regulation system fitted inside the Kangoo Z.E. Concept. While this temperature regulation system uses a good amount of power to keep the interior as cool as possible, it also maintains a comfortable temperature even when parking or at a standstill, thereby putting off the need to boost the concept's climate control system when entering the car on a hot day.

Furthermore, Renault made sure that the layout of the heating and climate control systems is able to achieve an efficient balance between performance and energy consumption. Since the impression of heat is mainly felt by the face and hands, Renault placed the systems accordingly in location where they could instantly make the difference on the occupant's more heat-sensitive areas. For instance, if the cabin temperature is around 15 degrees Celsius, warmth is directed to more heat-sensitive areas via a heated steering wheel.

Interestingly, Renault removed the drag-producing exterior mirrors and replaced them with streamlined, low-energy cameras powered by the solar panels on the roof. Additionally, these low-energy cameras provide enhanced all-round practical visibility. Moreover, the concept features headlights that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are much more energy efficient and more durable. The concept also employs full-disc aluminum alloy wheels that generate less drag.

Aside from being energy efficient, the Kangoo Z.E. Concept is also interactive and user-friendly. The logos would illuminate when the vehicle senses that its occupants are approaching, Additionally, the car is fitted with polyurethane gel bumpers that deform easily to absorb minor bumps, making the concept safer for both its drivers and pedestrians.

Incredibly, the Kangoo Z.E. Concept features a lighted linear display placed on the exterior portion of the door that tells how much range the car still has even before its driver enters – just like a charge indicator of a cell phone. Renault also fitted the Kangoo Z.E. Concept with advanced navigation system interfaces to better manage its energy requirements.

Press Release

Kangoo Z.E. Concept

  • Kangoo Z.E. Concept is based on Renault Kangoo and brings zero-emission mobility to the professional road-user.
  • Kangoo Z.E. Concept is powered by a 70kW electric motor which delivers 226Nm of torque, in conjunction with a lithium-ion battery. Energy consumption is minimized thanks not only to the careful attention that has been paid to its overall design, but also to the energy optimization solutions it features, without the necessary high standard of comfort suffering in any way.

Kangoo Z.E. Concept's many information functions make it a particularly user-friendly, efficient and interactive vehicle.

AN URBAN AND SUBURBAN CALLING

Kangoo Z.E. Concept's dimensions (length 3.95m, height: 1.85m) ensure that it is perfectly nimble and manoeuvrable in and about town. Its high torque (226Nm) is instantly available to ensure responsive acceleration performance in built-up areas.

ZERO-EMISSION MOBILITY, TOO, FOR THE PROFESSIONAL ROAD-USER

The Kangoo Z.E. Concept provides a foretaste of what mobility promises to resemble in the future for urban-based transporter and delivery companies, while at the same time carrying over the same acclaimed strengths as Kangoo when it comes to travelling comfort, space and safety performance. To facilitate loading, the hatch-type rear door and wide, folding sill ensures that parcels and other types of loads are easy to slide into the boot.

DESIGNED TO OPTIMIZE ENERGY CONSUMPTION

The design of Kangoo Z.E. Concept has been thought through in keeping with its mission as an electric vehicle which needs to minimize energy consumption, yet without losing sight of the need for modern comfort-related refinements.

The use of heat-reflective paint and bodywork featuring large surface areas reduces temperature fluctuations. Indeed, the bodywork functions along the same lines as a Thermos flask and comprises two insulating panels with a sandwich of air in between. This air, which is still the most effective insulant known today, serves to moderate temperature extremes between the exterior and the interior of the car. Thermal insulation is further optimized thanks to special treatment of the glazed surfaces, meaning that less call is made of the climate control and heating systems which are big consumers of energy.

Solar panels positioned on the roof are employed to power a temperature regulation system inside the car. Keeping the cabin cool uses a significant amount of energy, but this system also permits a pleasant temperature to be maintained inside the cabin, even at a standstill or when parking, and avoids having to put the climate control system on boost when first getting in the car on a hot day.

The entire layout of the heating and climate control systems has been developed to achieve a particularly efficient trade-off between performance and energy consumption. For example, the impression of heat is especially felt by the face and hands. Accordingly, if the cabin temperature is, say, 15 C, warmth is channelled as close as possible to these more sensitive zones (in the form of a heated steeringwheel, for example) in order to ensure that the driver feels comfortable, while using less electrical energy.

The conventional drag-producing exterior mirrors have been replaced by streamlined, low-energy cameras which are powered by the roof-mounted solar panels. These cameras provide improved allround visibility, which is especially practical when manoeuvring. The full-disc aluminium alloy wheels produce less drag, too, while the headlights use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which are not only longlasting but also low consumers of energy.

INTERACTIVE AND USER-FRIENDLY

The Kangoo Z.E. Concept enables the driver to communicate with the vehicle with a view to profiting fully from its technology. For example, logos light up to signal that the vehicle recognizes occupants as they approach.

As a socially responsible car, it is also equipped with polyurethane gel bumpers which deform easily to soak up minor knocks, while customers and pedestrians are reassured by their absorbent aspect.

A linear display on the outside of the door provides an indication of how much range remains even before the driver gets inside the vehicle. This lit display can be likened to the charge indicator of a cell phone. Innovative navigation system interfaces also contribute to intelligent management of the vehicle's energy requirements.

The idea is to simplify journeys with a view to using as little energy as possible. The Man Machine Interfaces (MMI) inside the car have been designed to provide information concerning the location of the nearest car park or charge station as a function of how much range remains. The car not only warns and calculates, but it also thinks ahead. Information is communicated to the driver via a cell phone which slots into the dashboard.

Using this cell-phone for the navigation function avoids having to run an energy-consuming in-car computer.

The dashboard itself is divided into distinct functional units which incorporate:

* a new-format minimalist display providing data specifically relating to the electric motor.
* a remotely-positioned control between the seats incorporating a touchpad to facilitate the keying in of data.

Kangoo Z.E. Concept provides a foretaste of the user-friendly, practical and efficient Renault electric utility vehicle of the future.

TWO BATTERY-CHARGING TECHNIQUES

The driver has two options when it comes to 'filling up' on energy: A standard charge: takes between four and eight hours, via a charging socket situated on the outside of the vehicle, A quick charge: in 20 minutes, using the same socket at bespoke charge stations.

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