Radical new Renault concept to showcase hydrogen plans
23 February 2022 - Autocar
Renault will preview a new design approach and potentially hydrogen combustion technology at an event in May
Renault will reveal a new concept car in May, showcasing a fresh approach to design and previewing plans for a hydrogen combustion engine.
The car was previewed in the firm's annual results presentation, and while details are thin on the ground, it clearly bears a raft of new design cues - including angular new daytime running lights, a heavily sculpted bonnet and a flush front end that looks to be modelled on the new Renault 5 supermini's.
The concept has yet to be named, but visual similarities with the 5 suggest it could preview the similarly retro-styled Renault 4ever crossover, which is due on sale in 2025. It will also showcase Renault's circular economy ambitions by employing recyclable materials throughout its construction.
Company CEO Luca de Meo was keen to emphasise that it is more than a simple design study. "When we do a concept, we want to turn that into real cars," he said.
Details of the powertrain will be given at the reveal, but Renault's use of the phrase "hydrogen engine" strongly implies a deployment of a modified petrol motor that runs on hydrogen. The firm currently uses hydrogen in commercial vehicles, but so far in only conventional fuel cell drivetrains.
This technology is emerging as a potential means of reducing fleet emissions without integrating costly and heavy EV drivetrains, with Toyota and Yamaha among its highest-profile proponents so far. The two Japanese firms yesterday revealed a 5.0-litre V8 that has been converted to run on hydrogen.
The eventual production car could also be available with a pure-electric powertrain, though. De Meo said the concept will showcase "electric, hydrogen… maybe other things".
Notably, Renault has confirmed plans to go all-electric by 2030, which suggests that if it does launch a hydrogen combustion engine in a production car, it will serve as a bridge offering to a full-EV.
Renault will unwrap the concept in May at "a big event", which will centre around the three core themes of de Meo's company transformation strategy: safety, inclusion and environment.
"On-board technical innovations" suggests the concept will preview a new approach to interior design and equipment as well.