“Everybody is investing in electric cars,” said Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn during the Geneva Motor Show. His company has more than 2000 engineers working on EV-related programs across the Alliance, which includes new partner Mitsubishi. The overall annual research budget is about €4.5B.
The Alliance's R&D program is focused on making EVs as fun to drive as they are clean and efficient. To make the point, Renault has revealed the Zoe e-sport, a battery-electric high performance concept version of its road-going Zoe EV supermini (see http://articles.sae.org/15279/). The e-sport version can top 200 km/h (124 mph) in 10 s, according to Renault engineers.
Don’t expect the Zoe e-sport to be on sale soon, if ever. The all-wheel drive 2-seater serves as a technology demonstrator that links road with track. Stéphane Janin, the company’s Director of Concept Car Design, says: “We came up with something midway between a production model and a race car.”
The concept is based on the production Zoe EV’s 4/5-seat platform and draws on Groupe Renault’s three years of FIA Formula E single seat championship racing via its e-dams team.
Claimed performance figures for the concept include 0-100 km/h acceleration in 3.2 s and a governed top speed of 210 km/h. Twin electric motors positioned front and rear respectively, deliver a combined 320 N·m (236 lb·ft) and a 340-kW (456-hp) output.
The e-sport concept has two seats and a carbon fiber body structure. Claimed curb weight is 1400 kg (3086 lb) including its 450-kg (992-lb) 40 kW·h lithium-ion battery.
A tubular steel roll cage is fitted, plus Kevlar protective paneling. The car complies with FIA safety standards, which would allow it to be used on race tracks. Two Recaro bucket seats are fitted with competition harnesses. The steering wheel is rectangular to provide a broader than normal field of vision similar that experienced by Formula E drivers, states Renault.
As in Formula E cars, the driver has control of powertrain settings, including braking distribution and driving modes that adapt to maximum performance or maximum range. The modes provide for different types of circuit and varying driver styles, adjusting power delivery between the electric motors to give front- or rear-drive bias.
Renault Sport Racing was involved in the Zoe e-sport’s steel chassis design and set-up. It is built by TORK Engineering and is closely related to Renault Sport hill climb and ice racing cars. Double wishbones are used front and rear, with Ohlins 4-way adaptable damper. The 20-in wheels are shod with 245/35 R20 tires.
Says Eric Feunteun, Renault's Electric Vehicle Program Director: “We believe that electric cars are capable of addressing the needs of all types of customers, with the emphasis on driving enjoyment.”