French carmaker Renault has unveiled an all-electric concept car, the MORPHOZ. Capable of adapting in size, shape and range based on the different needs of the user, the MORPHOZ is Renault’s vision of personal, shareable, electric mobility of the near future. The vehicle, presented online instead of at the now-canceled Geneva Motor Show 2020, showcases an innovative ideal for sustainable mobility and smart city ecosystems.
“The Renault MORPHOZ concept represents changes in technology, society, the environment and human behaviour,” state Renault Group. “It is a key element of several transformational ecosystems which place sharing as a fundamental principle. Groupe Renault is already strongly involved in supporting the mobility revolution with products, services and solutions. Its strategy is to become a supplier of smart mobility solutions for the cities and regions of the future.”
As a symbol of Groupe Renault’s vision of electric mobility in the years after 2025, the MORPHOZ is a key part of the transformation to Smart Cities, where connected technologies, smart and open data, IoT devices, smart networks, new materials and clean energies can be used to design and build a positive future.
The MORPHOZ’s Level 3 driving autonomy enhances the safety of everyone by removing human error behind almost 90% of road accidents. Its sensors also detect pedestrians and cyclists, actively alerting the driver to them in manual mode, in order to avoid accidents.
Its electric powertrain helps to improve air quality and means it can be used in areas that are out of bounds to ICE vehicles. The shorter City version is ideal for city traffic, with a reduced footprint and less extensive vehicle facilities.
With its system of battery stations, it can play a role in creating energy self-sufficiency in city neighbourhoods. Unused batteries deposited in the stations can power infrastructures, buildings and services. They store renewable energy and help to smooth out peaks in demand by returning it when needed. This battery sharing also means fewer need to be produced.
Artificial intelligence (AI), connectivity and other clever features combine to immerse driver and passengers in a welcoming and calm environment. The AI operates before anyone has even entered the vehicle, using its sensors to detect and recognize the driver on approach. It activates a light sequence on the doors to indicate recognition. The driver just waves to activate the welcome sequence, which unlocks and opens the doors, automatically positions the seat and adjusts the interior lighting to the driver’s preferences and mood. The driver also hears the AI’s welcoming voice. The cabin is crossed by a raised centre console which represents the brain of the MORPHOZ. There is a special holder for the driver’s smartphone, which is then drawn into the console’s wooden panel to serve as the main data source. The AI will then, if authorised, use data and information from the smartphone to perform its tasks.
The AI lets the driver see the surrounding area by processing real-time data from external sensors and images from the vehicle cameras, especially the set which replace the door mirrors. Light displays on the inner doors and windows signal the presence of a pedestrian or a cyclist in the blind spot.
Acting like a virtual personal assistant, the AI on the can be managed in three ways: by touching the screens and console, by hand gestures, or by voice. In City mode, for daily travel, it converts the driver’s diary into an efficient trip by optimising the itinerary and the time between appointments. In Travel mode, en route to a holiday, for example, it suggests points of interest while taking the desired time of arrival and remaining range into account, like the electric journey plan on the MY Renault app for Renault electric vehicles. In both cases, the large screen on the instrument panel provides a 3D display of the trip.
Onboard the MORPHOZ, the driver’s and passengers’ smartphones are detected automatically, and each person can continue to listen to their favourite music relayed through the speakers in the seats. A journey planned at home will be automatically picked up by the navigation system, which will send a route of the last distance to be walked to the driver’s smartphone once the vehicle is parked close to the destination.
This configurable concept can transform into two different modes: from the shorter City form to the longer Travel version. It is fully adaptable to fit the needs of drivers and passengers, with City mode fitted with the right battery capacity for day-to-day commuting or shopping, while in Travel it is able to accommodate the added capacity needed for long-distance journeys.
The City version is 4.40m long with a 2.73m wheelbase, a record for the vehicle length, while still being light and cost-efficient. A 40kWh battery is fitted as standard, with a range of up to 249 miles, more than enough for daily urban and suburban use.
In this configuration, the MORPHOZ features a specific light signature, which includes additional LED segments. Its style is more striking, with a short bonnet, sculptured bumpers and short overhang which pushes the wheels out to the corners, demonstrating the agility of an electric-powered city car. At the same time, the onboard experience matches a vehicle usually found in the luxury segment.
The Travel version is 4.80m long with a wheelbase which is proportionately longer at 2.93m, allowing it to accommodate additional battery capacity and provide a spacious interior. There’s more leg room for passengers, along with enough space for two more suitcases, while the design is further optimized with a specific tapered front-end and profile helping to improve aerodynamic performance.
The Travel Extender battery pack offers an additional 50kWh of power, for a total capacity of 90kWh and a total range of 435 miles, perfect for those travelling longer distances. The vehicle extends and converts to Travel mode at a pre-determined battery station where the undertray of the vehicle opens and extra batteries can be installed in just a few seconds. Once back, the driver stops at a station to return the extra batteries and revert to the original 40kWh capacity and the smaller dimensions of City configuration. The station then recharges the batteries while putting them to additional use until they are needed by another vehicle, such as storing electricity from renewable energy sources or lighting infrastructure or an adjoining building.