Crazy Electric Renault Concept Has Crazy Square Tires

In preparation for expanding their model lineup with a range of electric vehicles in 2011, Renault is showing four electric car concepts at Frankfurt. Two could be production-intent and the smallest has square wheels. Yeah, that one won't make it.

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More importantly then untenable square wheels, the four concepts display hot swap battery tech that's supposed to enable three minute "recharges."

In addition to the "Quickswap" battery changes, both the Renault Fluence ZE and Renault Kangoo ZE are based on gas-powered production models. That means these could likely be coming to production. Well, except for the lunar buggy-looking thing above with the square wheels. That'd just be cuh-razy!

Full press release below:

RENAULT'S FOUR ELECTRIC VEHICLE CONCEPTS SHOCK FRANKFURT

Renault generated quite a buzz at the opening of this year's Frankfurt motor show, with the unveiling of an unprecedented four electric vehicle concepts, as well as releasing further details on the future infrastructure and technology behind them.

All Renault's concept cars on show in Germany preview its electric vehicle range which will be released from 2011 and cater for a wide variety of different customers and uses.

In summary, the Renault electric vehicle highlights for the show are:

* Twizy Z.E. Concept: pearlescent white ultra-compact and nimble 1+1 zero-emission city car, with 15kW motor (20hp) and footprint barely larger than a scooter (2.3m long, 1.13m wide and turning circle of 3m). It has a top speed of 47mph, with acceleration comparable to 125cc motorbike
* Zoe Z.E. Concept: compact, four-seat supermini for short daily journeys in urban areas. Scissor doors at the front and butterfly doors at the rear, with polyurethane gel for front and rear of car to underline its hi-tech feel and protect components against minor knocks in town. Features 70kW motor for 100 mile range, 21" alloy wheels and retractable rear spoiler for greater aerodynamic efficiency. Comes complete with personalisable avatar for driving information, mood lighting and futuristic 'hydrate, detox and active scent' climate control
* Fluence Z.E. Concept: electric version of all-new, elegant five-seat Fluence saloon with range of 100 miles for family driving, ahead of production for Israeli market with Project Better Place. Boasts low-rolling resistance Michelin tyres and Samsung Jet phones
* Kangoo Z.E. Concept: previews electric van for fleet and commercial use with 70kW electric motor, solar roof panels and even a heated steering wheel
* ‘Quickdrop': three distinct vehicle charging methods, of which this is one. Rapid exchange stations replace batteries within three minutes

In line with the values championed by the Renault brand, its electric vehicles will offer customers a spacious interior, comfort, quality and safety. They will also feature a distinctive design signature.

Electric vehicles represent the clean-break solution which can put zero-emission mobility within everyone's reach. In line with the brand's Renault eco² environmental policy, Renault Z.E. electric vehicles are poised to be marketed on a large scale to take a decisive stand on the environment.

Renault begins marketing affordable production electric vehicles in 2011, with the Renault-Nissan Alliance targeting number one status mass-market zero-emission vehicle sales.

Twizy Z.E. Concept is an innovative response to the challenge of urban mobility. With its four-wheel chassis, it offers the driver and passenger, seated in tandem, an all-electric means of transport which produces no CO2 emissions. Compact, nimble and practical, it offers everything needed to cope with city traffic.

Wraparound bodywork creates a safe, reassuring cocoon which offers first-class protection for both driver and passenger. Power comes from a 15kW electric motor which develops 70Nm of torque, making Twizy Z.E. Concept versatile and easy to drive. Acceleration in urban and suburban traffic is comparable to that of a 125cc motorbike.

The second showcar, Zoe Z.E. Concept, is evidence that an all-electric zero-emission vehicle can also boast smart, appealing looks. Its special roof optimises the management of the climate control system to ensure extended range, while the ambience inside the cabin can be customised. Over and above its traditional role, the climate control system breaks new ground thanks to its 'hydrating', 'detox' and 'active scent' functions which combine to enhance travel. Zoe Z.E. Concept is a compact, versatile car for daily use, which represents a new form of transport thanks to the option of three battery-charging techniques.

The third all-new´concept at Frankfurt, Fluence Z.E. Concept, is a statement of Renault's intent to produce a range of zero-emission vehicles that meets the needs of all types of motorists. A genuine four-door family car with attractive styling, comfort and space, it proves that such features can go hand in hand with respect for the environment.

Fluence Z.E. Concept is an all-electric car with a range of 100 miles. The battery can be charged using one of three methods: a standard charge (between four and eight hours), a quick charge (20 minutes) or an immediate solution (three minutes) which takes the form of the exclusive 'Quickdrop' rapid battery exchange system. The saloon concept previews the forthcoming electric version of Fluence and represents a solution to zero-emission motoring in the world of tomorrow.

Kangoo Z.E. Concept is based on the Kangoo and brings zero-emission mobility to the professional road-user. Powered by a 70kW electric motor, delivering 226Nm of torque, in conjunction with a lithium-ion battery, its energy consumption is minimised thanks not only to the careful attention that has been paid to its overall design, but also to energy optimisation, without impacting the high standard of comfort. Kangoo Z.E. Concept's many information functions make it a particularly user-friendly, efficient and interactive vehicle.

In addition to the four concept cars on show, Renault also chose Frankfurt to unveil its exclusive 'Quickdrop' battery exchange system, as well as further details on the two other battery power solutions.

There will be three options to re-fuel Renault's zero-emission vehicles:

* Standard charge: takes between four and eight hours, via a charging socket situated on the outside of the vehicle.
* Quick charge: in 20 minutes, using the same socket at specific charging points.
* 'Quickdrop' system: three minutes at a rapid battery exchange station.

Range optimisation is the greatest challenge for electric vehicles. This is why Renault is working hard to make the process as simple and efficient as possible by planning for all types of charging needs and methods.