To state the obvious, one of the reasons the Paris auto show is unique is because the French automakers are on their home turf. We see Renault, Citroen, and Peugeot at the Geneva show each year, but their most exciting cars always debut in Paris. DeZir is the latest Renault EV concept and it looks pretty cool.
Renault has been working on electric vehicles through its alliance with Nissan and the DeZir actually has a little in common with the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf and Renault Z.E. (zero emission) line use the same electric motor and the DeZir is the latest evolution of that motor. The 1830-pound car allegedly scoots to 60 mph in 5 seconds and can travel as far as 100 miles on a charge. As always, the charge time depends on the type of connection you can find.
Clearly the motor and 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack have a strong relationship with production vehicles, but what about the wacky styling? According to Renault, the DeZir concept shows the future styling direction of the brand. It's worth noting Renault recently hired Laurens van den Acker, Mazda's former top designer, and this is his first show car in his new role. We can almost see a bit of Mazda's abandoned Nagare design language in the front of the Dezir. One gullwing door is hinged at the front and the other has a rear hinge, which is the sort of thing that might surprise you if another automaker tried it.
Interestingly enough, DeZir employs a KERS system to capture energy that's normally lost during braking. When there's enough stored energy, the driver can use a push-to-pass button that delivers an extra burst of power for a short time. Another interesting technological twist Renault brings to the table is the use of Kevlar for the car's body to keep weight down.
Overall the car is funky in a good, French way. We'd certainly like an opportunity to take the swoopy EV out for a test drive.
For Automobile Magazine's complete coverage of the 2010 Paris show, head to the show index page to read about the exciting debuts from Audi, Chevrolet, Jaguar, Lotus, and all your other favorite brands.