Electric Twingo exposed

22 Jun, 2009 12:43pm Alex Goy

Amazing pictures show Renault is readying radical battery model. Called the Twingo ZE, it’s set to charge in at Frankfurt Motor Show.

It’s the all-electric supermini that’s set to change the way we own and drive our cars. This is Renault’s three-seat green machine, the Twingo ZE.

Auto Express’s French sister magazine, Auto Plus, published these amazing scoop images – which reveal a top-secret clay model at the firm’s Paris HQ.

Set for an official debut at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the newcomer is aimed at Vauxhall’s imminent Trixx – which we unmasked in Issue 1,062. The Renault goes on sale next year, starting at £13,000.

According to our sources, it will be powered by a simple electric engine and an advanced battery pack. This set-up is similar to that already fitted to the Be Bop ZE concept, but as the Twingo ZE is smaller it should be able to go further.

The estimated range is an ambitious 100 miles on each charge. However, what’s most interesting is that the design is so focused on making the most of the electric powerplant, no conventionally fuelled variant will be offered.

The drivetrain offers 59bhp, which should mean a 0-60mph time of around 10 seconds and a top speed of 80mph. Taking cues from
the Be Bop show model, the Twingo ZE will have smooth bodywork surfaces to improve aerodynamics.

Drivers can also expect regenerative braking, while other energy-saving kit is set to include high-performance insulation – this is designed to reduce the demands on the air-conditioning system.

As with other electric models, there will be a charger that works with conventional household plug sockets. This promises to revive the battery incredibly quickly – in around four hours – and means owners should be able to keep their car topped up for commuting using a combination of public and private charging points.

Most radical of all, however, is the way the company plans to keep drivers on the road for longer runs. It’s setting up an innovative ‘Quick Drop’ scheme. Dedicated sites – most likely to be Renault’s network of dealers – will allow owners to exchange flat batteries for
a fresh, fully charged set.

At the heart of this is the concept that drivers will merely lease the batteries for the car, rather than own them outright. This will help keep the costs of the Twingo as low as possible – matching Renault’s stated aim that all of its electric cars will cost the same as, or less than, the equivalent petrol models.

The secrets out

These amazing scoop pictures were secured from deep within Renault by Auto Express sister magazine Auto Plus. They show a clay mock-up, used by designers to detail what bosses can expect from the final car. It has no interior or running gear, but is a vital stage in a model’s development.

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