Renault unveils Z.E. Electric Concept

Article by Christian A., on August 29, 2008

Following Nissan with is Nuvu Concept, Renault unveiled today at the Paris Motor Show a new concept called Z.E. The new Renault Z.E. Concept (Z.E. comes from Zero Emissions) has actually the same features as the Nissan Nuvu Concept, due to the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Based on the Renault Kangoo be bop, the new concept features a design which has been adapted to the spirit of an electric vehicle.

The concept measures 3.95m in length and 1.85 in height, perfect for using is it in your town. The Z.E. is powered by a 75 kW (93 hp) electric engine which develops 226 Nm of torque, making it particularly flexible, responsive and comfortable to use.

Batteries are lithium-ion type. Now listen to something really interesting: the bodywork functions along the same principle as a Thermos flask: it comprises two insulating panels with a sandwich of air, due to the fact that air is the most effective insulant known today.

Like the Nissan Nuvu Concept, the Z.E. comes also with solar panels positioned on the roof. These panels power a temperature regulation system cooling the inside of the vehicle even at standstill or when parking.

The mirrors have also been replaced with low-energy cameras which are also powered by the roof-mounted solar panels to enhance all-round visibility.

Exterior Design

The bodywork of the new Renault Z.E. electric concept works like that of a Thermos flask – it is made up of two insulating panels sandwiching air between them. This air functions as a very effective insulant, thereby limiting the variations in temperature between concept's exterior and interior.

Moreover, the concept features roof-mounted solar panels that power a temperature regulation system. This system, while requiring lots of energy to function, maintains an enjoyable temperature inside the cabin even when the car is at standstill or when parking – which means that drivers don't have to switch on the climate control during startups.

On the other hand, the heating and climate control functions feature a layout that allows an efficient compromise between performance and energy consumption. For instance, the Z.E. electric concept takes advantage of the fact that heat is usually felt on the face and hands.

Thus, when the cabin becomes colder (or at a temperature of 15°C), warmth can be directed as close as possible to key zones to make the driver feel more comfortable while using less electrical energy – by using a heated steering wheel.

To make the Renault Z.E. electric concept more efficient, it comes with headlamps that use high-performance light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are both long lasting and energy efficient. Likewise, Renault got rid of the drag-producing exterior mirrors and instead installed streamlined low-energy cameras powered by roof-mounted solar panels.

Moreover, these cameras provide better all-round visibility than conventional external mirrors. Renault also made use of low-drag full-disc aluminum alloy wheels to increase the concept's aerodynamic performance.

Interestingly, the Z.E. Concept comes with an array of interactive communication features – like logos that light up to signal that the car recognizes its occupants as they approach.

Since the Z.E. Concept represents Renault's vision of mobility in the future, it also features a number of elements that make it a socially responsible vehicle. For instance, the concept features polyurethane gel bumpers that deform easily to absorb minor knocks.

Press Release


In parallel to its new TCe and dCi engine ranges, Renault is furthering its strategy aimed at curbing CO2 emissions with the development of electric vehicles. Since the beginning of 2008, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has signed agreements with several states and regions (Israel, Denmark, Portugal, Japan's Kanagawa prefecture, the state of Tennessee in the USA), which will lead to the mass marketing of this form of vehicle from 2011. Z.E. Concept ('Z.E.': Zero Emission) is Renault's vision of the electric vehicle as an efficient, user- friendly zero-emission car. Based on the brand new Renault Kangoo be bop, Z.E. Concept features a design which has been adapted to the spirit of an electric vehicle, with the focus on minimizing energy consumption while at the same time providing core comfort features. The energy consumption of auxiliary functions such as lighting, heating, climate control, etc. is a key factor when it comes to an electric vehicle's range, so special attention has been paid to optimize energy management. Z.E. Concept also incorporates several interactive information features which are easy to use. Z.E. Concept is powered by a 70kW electric motor with torque of 226Nm, with lithium-ion batteries.

Energy saving management at the heart of Z.E. Concept's design

Z.E. Concept is based on Kangoo be bop and its compact dimensions (length: 3.95m, height: 1.85m) favour manoeuvrability in and about town. This electric vehicle was designed to minimize energy consumption, without forgetting modern comfort-related refinements.

The employment of heat-reflective paint and insulating bodywork featuring large surface areas contributes to the reduction of temperature fluctuations which traditionally prompt the use of climate control or heating systems which are big consumers of energy. Insulation is further optimized by the use of acid green-tinted glass for the glazed areas.

The bodywork functions along the same lines as a Thermos flask. It comprises two insulating panels with a sandwich of air. This air, which is still the most effective insulant known today, limits variations in temperature between the exterior and the interior of the car. Solar panels, positioned on the roof, power a temperature regulation system. Cooling the inside of a vehicle uses a great deal of energy, but this system permits a pleasant temperature to be maintained in the cabin, even at standstill or when parking, and avoids having to switch on the climate control when starting the vehicle.

Meanwhile, the layout of the heating and climate control functions has been thought through to produce a particularly efficient trade-off between performance and energy consumption. For example, the impression of heat is especially felt on the face and hands. Accordingly, if the cabin temperature is 15°C but warmth can be channelled as close as possible to key zones (a heated steeringwheel, for example), the driver will feel comfortable while using less electrical energy.

The conventional drag-producing exterior mirrors have been replaced by streamlined, low-energy cameras which are also powered by the roof-mounted solar panels to enhance all-round visibility, especially when manoeuvring. The low-drag full-disc aluminium alloy wheels also improve aerodynamic performance.

The headlamps use efficient, high-performance light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which are not only long lasting but also low consumers of energy.

Optimizing energy management is consequently a key aspect of the research that has gone into the technology employed for this concept car.

An interactive, user-friendly vehicle The Z.E. Concept concept car offers motorists and passengers a pleasant, relaxing ride and this sensation is enhanced by a number of interactive communication features. For example, logos light up to signal that the vehicle recognizes its occupants as they approach.

Z.E. Concept illustrates Renault's vision of mobility in the future. As a socially responsible vehicle, it is equipped with polyurethane gel bumpers, for example. These deform easily to soak up minor knocks, while pedestrians are reassured by their absorbent aspect.

A linear display on the outside of the door provides a visual indication of how much range remains even before the driver gets into the vehicle. This display is redolent of a cell phone charge-indicator.

As a vehicle of the future, Z.E. Concept is seen as a simple link in the overall mobility chain. To facilitate getting around in areas where space is a premium, an electric scooter is packed into the boot and is charged via the car's own system. To make loading easier, the rear hatch-type tailgate combines with a wide, folding sill which enables this scooter – or any other item – to be slid into the boot.

Z.E. Concept contains very few fluids that need recycling at the end of its lifecycle.

The smart navigation interfaces feature an innovative approach to alleviating the vehicle's energy requirements. Indeed, electricity can be saved by making journeys easier. The MMIs (Man Machine Interfaces) are able to pinpoint the nearest car parks equipped with charging stations as a function of the remaining range, making Z.E. Concept a car which not only warns and calculates, but which also thinks ahead... Information is relayed from the vehicle to the driver and vice-versa via a cell phone which connects directly to the dashboard.

Using a cell phone-based navigation system avoids the necessity for an energy-consuming onboard computer. The dashboard itself takes the form of two distinct functional units:
- a new-format minimalist display which provides specific data relating to the electric motor,
- a remotely-positioned control between the seats incorporating a touchpad to facilitate the keying in of data.

All-electric power, zero emissions Z.E. Concept is equipped with a 70kW electric motor which delivers torque of 226Nm, making it particularly flexible, responsive and comfortable to use. Batteries are lithium-ion type.

Z.E. Concept provides a foretaste of the Renault electric vehicle which will be easy to use, practical and efficient.

Length (mm) 3,945
Width (mm) 1,856
Height (mm) 1,748
Height with tailgate open (mm) 1,902
Wheelbase (mm) 2,406
Front track (mm) 1,572
Rear track (mm) 1,572
Front overhang (mm) 794
Rear overhang (mm) 745
Unlade weight (kg) 1,520

Technical data
Power source Electric motor
Power output Peak output: 70kW (95hp). Continuous
output: 50kW
Maximum torque 226Nm
Battery type Lithium-ion
Transmission Direct with front/rear reducer and inverter
Traction Electric
Tyres 245/35R21
Wheels Diameter: 21"/Width: 8.5"

D 3 Bodywork
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tyres
Samsung Samsung F480 cell phone for communication with the vehicle

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