Paris motor show: Renault introduces its affordable electric car

K-ZE will be introduced in China first before coming to Europe

Renault has actually managed to pull off something of a surprise at the Paris motor show by introducing us to the K-ZE, its new affordable electric crossover. The K-ZE is small (smaller than a Captur, for instance), and has been designed to be compatible with as many charging systems as possible, both at home and at public charging points. Initially the K-ZE will be introduced in China (where the government is putting car makers under increasing pressure to increase sales of electric cars, in part to combat the dreadful pollution levels in Chinese cities) before coming to Europe. It will also be built in China, by e-GT New Energy Automotive Co, a joint venture between Renault, Dongfeng Motor Group and Nissan created to develop and produce electric vehicles for the Chinese market.

"Groupe Renault was a pioneer and is the European leader in electric vehicles. We are introducing Renault K-ZE, an affordable, urban, SUV-inspired electric model combining the best of Renault; our leadership in EVs, our expertise in affordable vehicles and in forging strong partnerships" said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive of Renault as he unveiled the K-ZE.

Don’t go expecting long-legged one-charge range though. As the K-ZE has been designed to be cheap, it will have a small battery, and Renault is talking about a 250km charge range on the old NEDC economy and emissions test. Under the new WLTP system, that would probably fall well below 200km.

Ghosn was also promising to spread Renault’s expertise with batteries and motors out to more of its core range. In spite of being an early adopter of electric tech, Renault currently only has one electric vehicle on sale — the Zoe (the tiny Twizy runabout hardly counts as a car, now does it?). That will slowly start to change, with the next-generation Clio which will come with mild-hybrid tech, for instance, and the Megane and Captur which will finally get some long-promised plugin hybrid powertrains.


Renault is also using Paris to talk about its plans for connected and autonomous vehicles. Alongside a (somewhat pie-in-the-sky) electric, autonomous, luxury concept car, Renault is showing off plans of how it intends to entertain and inform those who use its future autonomous vehicles. The car maker has teamed up with French media group Challenges to create '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.' Basically, think of it as Renault's in-car infotainment service, a mixture of Google, YouTube, and Netflix all beamed into your car. Yet another monthly subscription to take out, no doubt…

“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, personalised mobility experience could be” said Chosn. “Access to premium content delivered through unique on-board experiences for drivers and passengers will become key differentiators.”

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring