On the first day of this year’s Paris Motor Show, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn unveiled the K-ZE, a battery electric cute ute designed in cooperation with Chinese partner Dongfeng. “Cute” is the operative word here. The K-ZE is indeed an attractive crossover type vehicle and is probably best described as a crossover version of the Renault Zoe sedan.
A Cute Ute For Urbanites
The specs for the K-ZE have not been disclosed officially, but the company is clearly thinking of it as a city car. Range is said to be 250 kilometers as measured by the now discredited NEDC standard. Convert that to miles and then subtract 40% and the likely EPA range will be under 100 miles — about the same as the Nissan LEAF with the original 24 kWh battery. No prices have been released, but with that limited range, the K-ZE should be affordable.
Ghosn told the audience that Nissan plans to sell more than a half million cars in the Chinese market by 2022. “China is a key strategic market for us. Our goal is to sell more than 550,000 vehicles by 2022 in this country. We will launch 9 new passenger cars, 3 of which will be 100% electric — RenaultK-ZE is the first of its kind,” he said. The K-ZE is said to offer the best autonomous features in its class, although items like a back up camera and automatic headlights hardly seem to put it in the same league with Tesla’s Autopilot. More on that below.
The K-ZE will be sold first in China before being offered in other global markets. Whether such a small car with such a modest range would be appealing to American buyers is hard to say. Renault is pushing hard to keep the price of its electric cars low. With electric cars, that usually means using small batteries. The company says the K-ZE can be charged to 80% capacity in 50 minutes using a fast charger or about 4 hours if plugged into a conventional outlet.
Renault also used the Paris show to announce other EV developments. A hybrid version of the popular Clio will soon be available In addition, plug-in hybrid version of its Captur and Megane vehicles will soon be available as well.
New Mobility Offerings From Renault
Ghosn was keen to impress his audience with the latest mobility offerings and concepts coming from his company. “The future is about driving — or being driven. It is also about how we choose to spend our time on board. This is the next revolution. At Renault, mobility is about traveling and more. With connectivity and AI, cars are becoming an interactive, high tech, personalized space more and more integrated into our personal and professional lives.”
The company says in a press release, “We are reinventing how you travel. Soon, time spent in your car will be more personal with immersive, exclusive media experiences. We’re re-defining life on board to take you further than your destination with Challenges.” Challenges is an interactive content provider that will provide news, entertainment, and educational opportunities to people as they cruise along inside future Renault vehicles.
“Today, we’re exploring how to deliver the best on-board experience, beyond driving and beyond the car itself. The car becomes the ultimate device,” Ghosn says. “We see the auto industry intersecting the media industry, creating new entertainment experiences and services for customers. At Renault, we want to offer the possibility to turn #travel time into a learning experience. We will be taking you further than your destination.”
One of the vehicles Renault is proposing is the EZ-GO, a robo-taxi of the future that features a large pop-up door in the front to make getting in and out easy. It also has the EZ-PRO — a “last mile” delivery vehicle in the works. But the pièce de résistance is the EZ-ULTIMO, first revealed to the public at the Paris show on Monday. Here’s how the company describes it.
“A mobile lounge for modern times. This is the ideal reference to define EZ-ULTIMO, the latest concept-car unveiled by Renault at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. This autonomous, connected and 100% electric “robo-vehicle” explores the shared mobility of tomorrow from the emotional side. Its promise: to provide you with a premium and immersive mobility experience, for a single trip, an hour or a day.” There is no mention of whether customers will have access to chiropractic assistance after they try to enter and exit this ultra-low premium all electric robo-limo.
Clearly, Renault has its eye on the future. Now to see how many of its new, new cars for a new, new world it can actually sell.
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