Renault just pulled the covers off its technology demonstrator Be Bop Z.E. all-electric car. It's going to tour Europe to show off its cleverness, and its drive train will actually end up in future Renault EVs from 2011 onwards.
As it stands, the Z.E.'s lithium-ion battery pack will offer the vehicle a 60-mile range, yet by the time the technology is added to real vehicles Renault expects the range to be over 100 miles. Using a 32 amp, 400v three-phase power supply it can totally recharge in 30 minutes (though what battery wouldn't, with that amount of juice pouring into it?) while a standard home electricity supply will do the job in a typical overnight or work-day six to eight-hour charge. Rather neatly the charger attachment is the new Marechal type, the universal charging standard recently agreed in Germany.
On the road the battery powers a 44 kW electric motor revving up to 12,000 rpm and has a supposed 90% energy efficiency. This gives the vehicle a high top speed, so it's been electronically capped at 130 kph (81 mph). The battery is also rather petite, so Renault has chosen to position it under the dashboard, so that it doesn't encroach on the passenger or cargo space of the vehicle in any way, and it's reported to last up until six years.
The energy efficiency doesn't stop there though: With the Z.E. Renault has tweaked the design of an actual production vehicle to make it greener. The exterior lights are high-brightness LEDs, which consume much less energy than halogen or incandescents. And some work has been done on the Be Bops odd boxy profile to improve its aerodynamics. Perhaps most high-tech of all, the Be Bop uses regenerative breaking—capturing in the energy back as the car's slowed down so it can be fed back into the battery, similar to the new tech adopted in Formula 1 cars this season.
It's kind of interesting that Renault's chosen the somewhat unconventional-looking Be Bop as its technology demonstrator, and chosen to smother it in faux circuit-board stencil designs. Is this Renault's way of suggesting future electric cars may not look like the regular vehicle's we're used to? The Aptera's already busy transmitting that message.