Car giant Renault is no stranger to innovation, and today the company has announced a new prototype vehicle, the EOLAB, as part of its ‘ultra low fuel consumption‘ initiative, which is part of a plan to introduce affordable low consumption motoring to the mass market within the next 10 years. The car, which is based on a standard supermini format, features over 100 innovations, which focus on reducing weight, dramatically improving aerodynamics and improving the hybrid engine technology significantly.
The result is a full four seater vehicle which is capable of 282 mpg (with CO2 emissions of just 22g/km), uses reasonable cost materials such as aluminum and magnesium, weighs just 955 kg (400kg less than a standard Renault Clio) and features a hybrid petrol/electric powertrain which is good for 66 km all electric travel, and speeds which match today’s conventional family cars.
The EOLAB powertrain is a combination ICE/electric, with a 999cc, 3 cylinder, 75 HP petrol engine, with a permanent magnet electric motor housed in the clutch casing, which can deliver 50kW of power. The two are mated to a 6.7kWh battery, and a completely new three speed gearbox, which gives two gears to the electric motor, and the third top gear to the normal petrol engine at higher speeds. By doing this the car saves weight, while delivering conventional style performance in one package.
The unusual set up also helps contribute to lower build costs, and therefore a more affordable retail price. According to Jean-Pierre Fouquet, who heads up the EOLAB project this was a deliberate decision.
“Today, most of the market’s hybrid vehicles are higher segment cars with a price tag of more than €40,000. The solutions showcased by EOLAB are much more economical and enable hybrid technology to be used for smaller cars and on a much bigger scale. Our objective is to produce a car with two power sources for the price of one.”
This powertrain also comes with dual mode operation, a ‘weekday‘ and a ‘weekend‘ mode. In the former, the vehicle prioritizes electric power for daily commuting, running on the bottom two gears at up to 120kph (74 mph), while the weekend mode makes use of the third gear and the petrol engine to deliver maximum range and conventional type top speeds.
Needless to say, a lot of the innovations, such as the ultra lightweight glass, ‘active’ aerofoil system (which helps deliver a drag coefficient of 0.470m², compared to a figure of 0.670m² for a Renault Clio) and the specially designed ‘tall & narrow’ tires will take some time to reach the mass consumer market, but the company has publicly declared that the object is to bring the cost of ultra low consumption motoring down to the level where the general public can benefit. Which is good news for buyers, and the planet.
The Renault EOLAB is scheduled to debut at the Paris Motor Show on 2nd October.