Is this the electrified future?

Renault is previewing its future mini electric crossover with the K-ZE concept revealed at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. Taking a closer look at the K-ZE, it becomes immediately apparent that it is, in fact, just a dressed up Kwid (which Renault already sells in emerging markets) which has had its internal combustion powertrain swapped out for a full-electric one.

The future electric crossover will look much closer to this concept, than it will to the current Kwid, although it will maintain its basic body shape. What will set it apart visually more significantly are the new, redesigned front and rear fascias, as well as various details around the exterior. It also promises to offer “class leading” range for a vehicle in its size-bracket.

Exterior

2018 Renault K-ZE
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While it is undeniably based on the super cheap Kwid mini-crossover, the K-ZE does make a more dramatic first impression.

Its two-tier front fascia, with LED daytime running lights placed separately above the actual lights, and integrated into the grille, it really attracts attention. It is considerably nicer to look at compared to the Kwid, and we’re quite sure most of the design will be carried over into the production variant.

Rear fascia is less boldly styled, but it works with the rest of the design very well and in the case of the concept, it is definitely lifted by the swanky LED rear lights; it also gets a skid plate under both front and rear bumpers, although it looks like they’re purely cosmetic (plastic) pieces that won’t actually protect anything.

Its wheels are also quite intricately designed and, just like the rest of the car, feature blue accents. The roof, for instance, is also painted blue, but instead of abruptly stopping, it flows down the car in a gradient and eventually fades into the car’s paint.

2018 Renault K-ZE
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The charging port is located on the right front fender, above the wheel, and it appears that it’s not covered by a flap.

We can’t say whether it will be kept here for the production version, but it will certainly need to have a protective lid to keep dirt, water, and ice out of the socket itself.

Interior

2018 Renault K-ZE
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Renault doesn’t show the K-ZE’s interior, so we can assume it’s not designed to be shown off - it’s probably just a Kwid interior with minor modifications - the concept has very dark windows so as not to peer inside.

But in the production version, it will probably remain very similar to that of the Kwid, although materials quality could and should be addressed, especially if Renault wants to sell it in Europe where buyers are not only savvy but also spoiled for choice in all segments.

Drivetrain

2018 Renault K-ZE
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Renault says the K-ZE has the longest range in its class, which it quotes at 155 miles, or 250 km, but it is measured according to the old NEDC standards.

Under the new WLTP guidelines, it will definitely drop under 120 miles. This is far less than some other all-electric crossovers (albeit bigger ones and already in production) say they offer.

No performance data is mentioned in the press blurb, but don’t expect the production version of this to be blisteringly quick. It will definitely be brisk off the line, but it’s unlikely that Renault will give it any kind of real power.

Conclusion

2018 Renault K-ZE
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The production version of the K-ZE will definitely be eye-catching by significantly improving the design of the Kwid, but it really needs to address the Kwid’s not very good interior and also keep as much of the concept’s exterior detailing as possible. Renault could also increase its battery capacity somehow because while it does call its one-charge range best in class, it’s not that impressive by current standards.

It will definitely be bought by city types who want as cheap an electric crossover as possible, but its limited range and interior space will render it useless for most journeys outside the city.

That means no weekend trips to the countryside in this car. It will definitely be priced very competitively for an electric car, that’s certain, but it’s going to face increasingly talented adversaries in the near future.

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    • Claimed range isn’t that impressive

Further Reading

2015 Renault KWID High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2015 Renault KWID.

Groupe Renault Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn today announced two steps forward in the company’s continued electrification of its Renault range, as outlined in the strategic plan Drive the Future: a new, affordable urban electric vehicle in 2019, coming first to China, and new hybrid and plug-in hybrid options on three of its popular vehicles in 2020. He also shared Renault’s vision for next-generation, on-board experiences with an exciting peek at the Augmented Editorial Experience that will be shown on October 2 at the Paris Motor Show.

New Products, new markets
A pioneer and leader in 100% electric mobility, Groupe Renault unveiled showcar Renault K-ZE, a new global A-segment, SUV-inspired electric vehicle, capable of 250km/155 miles NEDC – the best autonomy in its segment. It features a seductive, sporty design with assertive lines and a muscular, compact footprint. Beyond its attractive design, Renault K-ZE is also easy to charge thanks to a double charging system compatible with domestic plugs and public infrastructures. Renault K-ZE comes with a host of equipment maximizing the experience of driving an electric vehicle such as rear parking sensors, rear view camera and a central screen with connected navigation and services.

China is the largest and fastest-growing market for electric vehicles and Renault K-ZE will therefore come first in China. It will be manufactured locally by e-GT New Energy Automotive Co, the Joint Venture with Dongfeng Motor Group and Nissan created to develop and produce competitive electric vehicles for the Chinese market.

“Groupe Renault was a pioneer and is the European leader in electric vehicles. We are introducing K-ZE, an affordable, urban, SUV-inspired electric model combining the best of Groupe Renault: our leadership in EV, our expertise in affordable vehicles and in forging strong partnerships”, said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Groupe Renault.

Renault also confirmed its plans to further electrify its range in its 2020 product refresh cycle, offering hybrid on Clio and plug-in hybrid on Mégane and Captur, giving consumers the possibility to go electric in the models they know and love. e-Tech, an innovative, 100% Renault in-house technology, enables Renault to offer hybrid versions on B and C segment models.

Premium content and reinvented onboard experiences
Also at tonight’s press conference, Mr. Ghosn discussed how on-board experiences evolve with the advent of new mobility. As mobility continues open up new possibilities for connected and autonomous cars, users will seek for more sophisticated on-board experiences to maximize travel time – personally and professionally. Demonstrating the next step in Renault’s investment stake in French media group Challenges, Mr. Ghosn revealed a new vision for the future of mobile content – an Augmented Editorial Experience (AEX). This immersive experience combining content, connectivity services, media and mobility, will turn travel time into a learning experience beyond driving and beyond the car itself.

“With the advent of connected, autonomous vehicles, customers will expect more of their traveling time.Experimenting with Groupe Challenges, we imagine what tomorrow’s connected, personalized mobility experience could be”, Carlos Ghosn said. “Access to premium content delivered through unique on-board experiences for drivers and passengers will become key differentiators”.

An immersive Augmented Editorial Experience will appear on the Renault stand at the Paris Motor Show. Inside a full-size capsule, through four scenarios in a 222-degree projection, visitors will experience how their daily time spent in a car might be different, through the benefit of enhanced on-board experiences and premium, adaptive, personalized content developed by Groupe Challenges.

The AEX capsule sits alongside a new Renault luxury concept car, which is an electric, autonomous, connected robo-vehicle, making it easy for people to imagine what the experience might be like in the autonomous drive car of the future.

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