French automaker Renault is planning a new trio of electric vehicles to arrive around 2011. Though two are electrified versions of existing vehicles, one EV is expected to be a unique five-door offering.
Renault seems enthusiastic about building a bespoke electric car, rather than an electric version based off an already existing model. As such, the electric hatchback is expected to be slightly larger than the Twingo subcompact, but will share little with the existing hatchback. Autocar claims the unknown small five-door is planned to have “an emotional design” and ditch the standard utilitarian look that most electric cars are designed with.
In addition, Renault plans on offering electric versions of its Kangoo compact van and Megane sedan. The Kangoo, previewed in concept form at the 2008 Paris motor show, will launch in time to be a VIP transport vehicle at the 2012 Olympics. The Megane, however, is part of Renault’s partnership with “Project Better Place,” which is focusing on bringing an EV to market in Israel.
Little is known about the battery packs Renault plans on using, but early tests of the Kangoo EV reportedly show a range of over 100 miles. In order to avoid a long recharge cycle, Renault’s testing the idea of high-amperage chargers that could replenish the pack in a half-hour. More interesting, perhaps, is Renault’s proposal to allow the driver to switch out batteries and use the car’s GPS (which would be standard) to inform the driver where the nearest available switch-out station is located. If no batteries are available, drivers would be able to recharge their vehicles at the same locale.