CHANDAN B MALLIK, Kolkata: As traction gains in the automotive arena for hybridisation and electrification mobility solutions, more and more carmakers are announcing participation in this specialist field. Groupe Renault has recently announced that it was ramping up investments in its electric vehicle strategy.
According to the plan, in addition to eight purely battery powered electric vehicles (EVs), Renault now plans to expand its range by twelve E-TECH models with hybrid or plug-in hybrid systems by 2022. The E-TECH plug-in initiative is a co-development between alliance partners Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
The first wave of new products to come out of this initiative include the all-new Renault Clio E-TECH Hybrid and the all-new Renault Captur E-TECH plug-in hybrid. Both models will be available soon and share several technology applications. The E-TECH engine powertrain architecture is based on similar foundations to that of the Renault F1 Team’s single-seaters that combines a combustion engine with two independently operated electric motors and a central battery pack. This architecture is paired with a multi-mode dog gearbox. The E-TECH plug-in hybrid drive will also follow in the 5-door Megane sedan at a later date.
The Renault Clio E-TECH is a compact hatchback that looks similar to its ICE sibling that can be identified from its E-TECH badging on the centre post as well as on the hatch of the boot. The powertrain consists of a 1.6-litre petrol engine, two electric motors and clutchless transmission. The combined output is 158 PS/torque 300 Nm. The lithium-ion battery in the Clio E-TECH plug-in hybrid has a capacity of 1.2 kWh and 250v. In all-electric mode, the car can travel up to 61 km. Interestingly, the car weighs just 10kg more than its ICE equivalent.
Inside the car, the ‘Smart Cockpit’ features a 7in TFT instrument cluster and the new Renault EASY LINK infotainment screen in either 7in (horizontal) or 9.3in (vertical). The new digital dashboard features a range of images and animations specific to hybrid.
On-board regenerative system has been provided and battery levels while charging or when the electric motor is in use are displayed on the information centre.
The Captur E-TECH is based on the stock ICE Captur platform with adaptations to incorporate the hybrid module. Like the Clio E-TECH, the ‘E-Tech Plug-in Hybrid’ logos are fixed to the hatch of the boot and centre post. The petrol tank is on the left-hand side of the vehicle while the charging socket is located on the right hand side.
Like the Clio E-TECH Plug-in, the shared engine displaces 1.6-litre, but he key difference is in the battery pack specifications. Compared to the Clio, the battery capacity and ratings are higher at 9.8 kWh and 400v. This enables the SUV can run at 100 per cent electric for 48km with a top speed of 136km/h. Battery charging options include both normal and fast methods — a 14Amp/3.2 kW unit will charge the battery pack 3 hours 30 minutes, while a 16Amp/3.7 kW set-up will do it in 3 hours.
The Captur E-TECH can be driven either purely on electric or it can draw power from both its petrol engine and electric motor combined. The MULTI-SENSE feature in that care enables all-electric driving while in ‘SPORT’ mode, if the electric motors and the petrol engine work together thanks to the series-parallel architecture.