Renault's head of design Laurens van den Acker believes electric cars could revolutionize automotive design, making the car once more the symbol of progress. Renault and alliance partner Nissan have announced plans for annual global electric vehicle production capacity of 500,000 units. Van den Acker talked about his vision for electric mobility with Automobilwoche Staff Reporter Michael Knauer.
EVs can make cars a symbol of progress, Renault design boss says
They certainly will. One of the reasons that I accepted Renault's offer was the fact that we live in a unique transitional phase. There is an incredible will to change things. Times like these are always the most exciting for a designer.
It's true that Renault is really very daring in its electric car programs. We see the chance to lead the way in electric cars in a few years. And not just in the 100,000-euros-and-up segment, as many are planning to do, but for a wide target group.
Will electric vehicles be designed with a futuristic look or look more like today's compact cars?
It may sound strange, but, as a car manufacturer, we have asked ourselves whether an electric car should look like a car. The answer is that there will be many directions in designs for electric mobility.
We have recently displayed very different variations, in the form of the Fluence, the Kangoo ZE, the Zoe and the Twizy: Something traditional, something practical, something futuristic and something funny. Besides, it's always smart to spread the risk.
That depends on who you are working for. If you want to build just 1,000 cars a year, you can build an iPod on wheels, a totally cool design statement. But if you want to sell 100,000 cars a year, you have to do it with different customers. In that case, feelings of safety and protection count most of all. Thus, our first electric cars will have four doors, offer room for four people, and exude a great deal of security.
That is an interesting question. For decades, the automobile was a symbol of progress. That got lost in the last few years. But with the help of the electric car, the auto industry can win back this important symbol. This could succeed in combination with an intelligent car that prevents accidents.
One should consider cars less from a technical standpoint and put people at the center. Cars should be adapted to people's life cycle. At the start, you fall in love. Our sports cars represent this feeling.
Then it's a matter of the family. We build our minivans for families. Then we have the world of work. That's our light commercial vehicles. Then there is the playfulness in people. That's the coupes and sports cars.
And in the end, you become wise and recognize what's important. I am convinced that electric cars take up these ideas the most convincingly.
I won't get into a competition with Le Quement. I'll never win that comparison. He is a legend among designers. He ultimately gave designers a voice. The situation today is completely different than it was five years ago. Renault wants to turn over a new leaf, now and not merely in three years. And I am working on that.