The speedy development of the electric car

With new electric motors and innovative batteries, electric vehicles are literally and figuratively speeding ahead. But they are also making a vital contribution to the use of sustainable energy, as visitors of Dutch Design Week (DDW) could see this year.

During Dutch Design Week, 35 new Renault ZOE cars provided transportation between the various DDW locations. The Dutch premiere gave visitors to DDW the opportunity to experience all of the new features of this 100% electric urban car.

Renault began producing 100% electric vehicles more than nine years ago, and became the European market leader in the sector. “Since this adventure began, we at Renault have understood that range and charging time are the most important factors in the wide-scale introduction of electric vehicles”, explains Éric Blanchard, Director of Electric Motors and Batteries. “So, we are constantly working on improving the technology.”

Faster and easier charging

Renault has also worked hard to facilitate new user-friendly charging options. With the new Caméléon charger, drivers can always recharge the vehicle within the charging station’s maximum available capacity. That means you can recharge literally anywhere: at home, on the street, at work, at a shopping centre, or along the motorway. Besides, the new ZOE also features a connector for a Combined Charging System, which facilitates quick charging (DC) up to 50 kW. That means you can recharge at quick-charging stations along the motorway, or for the less technologically inclined among us; charging for 30 minutes, means driving for another 150 kilometers.

Renault Energy Services

In 2017, the French automaker launched Renault Energy Services (RES). The main mission of this new start-up is to build partnerships with other innovative players in the energy sector. Most of its activities are in the field of the charging technology of the future.

One of the company’s interesting fields of research is the use of car batteries to store the peaks in solar- and wind generated energy. Under the right weather conditions, solar panels and wind turbines produce more energy than the grid can consume at that moment. But storing that excess energy is still relatively expensive, so RES is developing innovative ways to store renewable electricity in the batteries of electric vehicles. And vice-versa, the vehicles can also provide energy to the electricity grid during peak consumption times. Experts refer to this as ‘bi-directional charging technology’.

Sustainable world premiere

The first test of this innovative technology took place in Utrecht last March. The French manufacturer joined forces with the Dutch firm We Drive Solar for the world premiere, which featured two Renault ZOE electric cars. Renault installed the vital bi-directional charging system and testing equipment in the two test vehicles and aims to supply the equipment to the factory in the future. The existing charging infrastructure requires only a few simple adjustments for the large-scale roll-out of the sustainable solution.

By making electric vehicles suitable for the temporary storage of renewable energy, Renault and its partners can create several important benefits. First, the new possibility will make the use of sustainable solar- and wind energy more affordable and accessible. That will make the project an important stimulus for the development of renewable energy, and therefore good for the environment. The project’s promise even drew King Willem-Alexander to the official kick-off event in March.

Secondly, the project is also good news for the owners of electric cars, as it will make it even less expensive to charge their vehicles. That will in turn make it economically attractive to expand the charging infrastructure to accelerate the energy transition. Utrecht is the first municipality in the Netherlands to choose to implement the new energy- and mobility system at a large scale, with the installation of at least 145 bi-directional charging stations. Electric car owners will also receive compensation for the electricity their cars supply to the grid, so Renault will make electric mobility an even more financially attractive option for car buyers.

Discover more about Renault's vision of 'the mobility of the future' here.