► Renault's stretching concept car
► Morphoz extends for more space and range
► Pie-in-the-sky battery swap tech mooted
This is the Morphoz – Renault’s latest funky concept car that was bound for the 2020 Geneva motor show before it was cancelled by the global coronavirus outbreak.
It’s designed to explore the idea of a car that can change shape depending on your needs.
How exactly does it change shape?
The Renault Morphoz is designed with two modes: City and Travel, with City being shorter in wheelbase and having a smaller battery capacity for the electric powertrain underneath. In City mode, the concept car is 4.4m long and has a 40kWh battery, which Renault claims is good for around 249 miles.
When Travel mode is selected, the bonnet stretches forward up to the point of the A-pillar, revealing a battery meter embedded into the bodywork, and the rear slides back to allow more luggage space.
What Renault envisions is that, when you go on a longer drive (travelling for leisure, say, or visiting relatives further away), you’ll drive to a ground-embedded charging station, drive over it, and an additional 50kWh battery will be slotted in, extending total EV range to around 435 miles.
Renault is clearly thinking about the wider infrastructure of the electric car (even if it is a bit pie-in-the-sky), as these charging pads will have a number of supplemental batteries in storage. Battery sharing, it says, will further reduce our carbon footprint by minimising how many people need more than one car in order to travel longer distances.
The Morphoz, it suggests, can also be used to power homes and appliances and the batteries stored in the subterranean charging pads are connected directly to the grid, with Renault suggesting any that aren’t in use on a car can power street lights and last-mile mobility like e-scooters and bicycles.
Check out that crazy interior!
The Morphoz is a four-seater inside, finished in an eye-searing electric yellow. It can be driven – this isn’t entirely some autonomous pod – so there’s a blocky, rectangular steering wheel with a properly futuristic take on Renault’s diamond logo and massive L-folding touchscreen infotainment system.
Renault claims the Morphoz has Level 3 autonomy, however, so that steering wheel and infotainment system can fold away for a cleaner cockpit, while still allowing the occupants to use the artificial intelligence-based infotainment.
The AI, for example, recognises you upon approach. When you wave at the car, it opens its doors. It can also streamline your busy work day by simplifying your route between meetings or appointments in City mode, or suggest activities and diversions when you’re in Travel mode.
On top of that, you can tell the car to engage Share mode, so long as you’re not sat in the front passenger seat. Why? Because the seat’s reversible shape allows it to tilt from facing forward to rearwards, allowing you to use the centre console touchscreen to play video games.
All very Tomorrow’s World...
Is any of this grounded in reality?
Well, the platform definitely is. The Morphoz uses the new CMF-EV platform from the Renault-Nissan Alliance – a modular architecture that’s designed for electric cars. Alongside Renault’s future plans, we expect Nissan to use this platform for the production version of its Ariya concept car.
Renault also says that exterior design cues will find their way onto future electric production cars – namely the light signature front and rear. The Morphoz’s single rear light bar that spans the with of the concept car’s backside, and a blockier take on the brand’s now-ubiquitous C-shaped DRL signature are pointers for what’s to come. The Morphoz’s light signature changes when it’s between City and Travel mode.
We’ll just have to wait what comes from Renault next.
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