CLEAR! The Renault U1st concept is Grey's Anatomy on wheels | CAR Magazine

CLEAR! The Renault U1st concept is Grey's Anatomy on wheels

Published: 22 May 2024 Updated: 22 May 2024

► Renault U1st concept revealed
► Van can be used for a range of ‘pop-up’ jobs
► Shown first as a mobile health clinic

Tired of waiting two months for a GP appointment or frantically dialling the doctors at 8am? Renault may have the answer with its U1st Vision concept – a van that can serve as a mobile dentist, GP and even an optician. 

Developed by Software Republique, a network of French companies that work to provide ‘tomorrow’s mobility’ – including Renault, digital services provider Orange and media firm JCDecaux, the U1st Vision is its latest creation. 

The van is based around Renault’s new electric van ‘FlexE’ platform and can use a range of different ‘pop-up’ modules for a range of different services, with its medical surgery use the first to be showcased. It’s been revealed at VivaFest, a huge start-up tech expo in Paris, of which Tesla boss Elon Musk is even a guest speaker at. It’s a big deal. 

So what is this concept exactly?

Good question, and one that’s quite hard to answer. Unlike a usual new car reveal where you know most of the details before you see it, the U1st was different – we truly walked int a dark room with no idea what to expect. When the covers were pulled off, a van was certainly not expected, and neither was the fact it’s essentially a GP surgery on wheels. 

Software Republique has worked with more than 20 companies, many involved with healthcare, to create the U1st concept, and it’s said to boast 12 world-first innovations. It features a range of scanners and tests to assess a person to pick up any health problems as early as possible. 

Renault U1st concept interior

Integrating with data from your personal devices – such as the steps tracked with your watch – it is said to be able to handle 85 per cent of regular medical tests, including blood pressure monitoring, ultrasound, hearing tests and even giving your teeth a once-over. In car language, think it of as a 114-point inspection. 

But it doesn’t have to be used for healthcare?

Renault is putting a big focus on saying this concept is scalable and modular, with healthcare just one ‘pop-up’ use possible from the van. 

Other examples it gives include having it as a remote office or tech support, a mobile bike repair outlet or for electrical goods recycling. 

Renault U1st concept front

However, rather than being an autonomous pod that goes around scanning people and telling them their ailments, it’s said to be ‘human-first’. Tests are completed by a medical expert in person but can be done remotely through the help of an AI assistant, the firm says. 

Why is it different to a normal van conversion?

While a mobile medical surgery is a great idea, there is the question of why this is only a concept vehicle given plenty of expert conversion companies already modify vehicles in a similar sort of way – ambulances being the most obvious example. 

Renault U1st concept interior

fBut by bringing a range of companies together, Renault is at an obvious advantage, not least by selling its conversion-ready vans to these firms. Renault says it’s in ‘discussion with customers’ to make the real deal based on its large Master commercial vehicle. The concept is also expected to be trialled with a range of healthcare companies. 

By Ted Welford

Senior staff writer at CAR and our sister website Parkers. Loves a car auction. Enjoys making things shiny