Electric Renault Kangoo Prototype Unveiled

While Nissan continues to tinker with its electric Cube prototype, parent firm Renault decided to play around with electric propulsion with this new Kangoo BeBop Z.E. prototype, unveiled at a recent stockholder meeting in Paris.

The idea of an electric Kangoo BeBop isn’t anything new – the Renault Z.E. concept shown at the 2008 Paris motor show was essentially the same idea, albeit with some wildly tinted windows ideal for the show circuit. Although it still has some conceptual embellishments (notably the green projector headlamps and the side moldings that display charge levels), the Kangoo BeBop is a step towards a production-feasible EV for the Renault portfolio.

In crafting this demonstrator, Renault essentially borrowed a stock Kangoo BeBop and stuffed it with an EV powertrain developed in partnership with Nissan. The 44-kW (60 hp) AC motor and the 15-kWh lithium-ion battery pack are almost identical to those used in the Nissan Cube EV, as are the Kangoo’s statistics. Renault claims this has a 100-mile range, a top speed of 80 mph, and, if using a 400-volt rapid charger, a recharge time of approximately 30 minutes.

While the Cube simply serves as a testbed for these new technologies, the Kangoo actually is a glimpse of what lies ahead. Nissan’s promised an electric compact car will be launched and (slowly) introduced in 2010, but Renault expects to market an electric Kangoo in Europe come 2012. Expect some of the concept’s styling flourishes to disappear before then, but don’t be surprised if the mechanicals lurking underneath change little, if at all.