Alpine EV? Electric Renault DeZir Concept Headed to 2010 Paris Show

Automobile Staff
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We've heard Renault mull reviving the Alpine performance brand while simultaneously touting its future as being chock full of electric vehicles. Are these mutually-exclusive goals? Hardly -- and to help prove that point, the automaker will showcase this new DeZir EV sports coupe concept at the 2010 Paris motor show.

Officially, the slender sports coupe is a preview of Renault's forthcoming design mantra, but we can't help but see some influence from the fabled Alpines of days gone, especially a late-model A110. This isn't a line-for-line copy, however -- Renault's design team, now led by Mazda ex-patriot Laurens van den Acker, lent the car a modern feel with some conceptual touches -- the floating Renault logo adds some flair, but doesn't grab attention like the gullwing doors. Although they open in opposite directions, each door swings up to reveal a shocking red and white interior, said to evoke an "amorous encounter." Yikes. Like the earliest Alpines, the powertrain lurking beneath the DeZir's sensuous skin is rather plebian. In fact, it seems Renault cribbed several components from its Z.E. series of electric vehicles, which employ mechanical bits similar to those used in the 2011 Nissan Leaf. The electric motor, which is rated at 150 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque, drives the rear wheels, and is mounted behind the cabin in a mid/rear position (a break from tradition, as Alpines almost always hung the engine/transaxle at the aft end of the car). A 24-kWh lithium-ion battery is vertically mounted behind the seat, and can power the car for up to 100 miles -- unless you drive it fast. Renault says the DeZir can zip from 0 to 62 mph in five seconds flat, and ultimately reach a top-end of 112 mph. Those performance times are achieved thanks in no small part to some trick bodywork. We're told the coupe's bodywork is fabricated from Kevlar, and van den Acker's slick shape lends the DeZir a drag coefficient (cD) of 0.25. The tubular steel frame is similar to that employed on the Megane Trophy race car, although nowhere as exotic as the bonded aluminum chassis used on the Renault Sport Spider. Renault does equip the concept with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), similar to that fitted to its F1 cars. By recovering energy during deceleration, the car can provide the driver with a temporary power boost, which can be activated via a button on the steering wheel. Will we see the DeZir enter production? At this point, all we know is Renault plans on incorporating the show car's front fascia design into future offerings -- but we've no idea if a sports coupe is part of the automaker's future portfolio. Here's hoping the company follows up its revival of Gordini by crafting a new Alpine -- electric or otherwise -- in the near future.

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