Re­nault’s voiture dans la mai­son

Re­nault’s blur­ring the di­vide be­tween your driv­ing and do­mes­tic lives. Could it re­ally hap­pen?

CAR (UK) - - Contents - By Colin Over­land

WHERE’S YOUR BEST sound sys­tem? For many of us, it’s in the car. The most com­fort­able seats? Yep, your car’s. The most con­trol­lable cli­mate? Ditto.

Aside from its main use as trans­port, the car can be a great per­sonal space, some­where to be as con­nected or iso­lated as you want. So what if you treated the car, when it’s not be­ing driven, as an­other room – a de­tach­able ex­ten­sion? Re­nault pushes this think­ing to ex­tremes with the Sym­bioz, a con­cept car un­veiled in­side a spe­cially con­structed house at the Frank­furt mo­tor show.

When driven into the house – or moved on to the roof via an el­e­vat­ing plat­form – the car be­comes a lounge or of­fice, with ev­ery­thing in easy reach. The front seats can swivel around and a

ta­ble swing into ac­tion. The show car and show house make ex­ten­sive use of the same ma­te­ri­als: glass, steel, wood, mar­ble, felt and porce­lain.

The doors open wide – the up­pers are toph­inged and the lower por­tions of the rear doors are rear-hinged – for crouch-free en­try.

Be­cause the car and house are con­nected not just to each other but to your di­ary, they both know if you’ve got a big trip com­ing up. If so, it will be fully charged in time. If it’s go­ing to stand idle it will be primed for a short trip only. Change of plans? The bat­ter­ies could be charged to 80 per cent of their ca­pac­ity in just 20 min­utes.

And if your do­mes­tic elec­tric­ity re­quire­ments rise sharply – there’s a power cut, say, or you’re host­ing a laser disco – the en­ergy can flow the other way, with the car feed­ing the house.

As Re­nault’s de­sign chief Lau­rens van den Acker says: ‘No longer can we think of car de­sign in iso­la­tion from the ecosys­tem sur­round­ing us, or from the evo­lu­tion of major changes like elec­tric en­ergy use.’

The car’s plat­form in­volves two elec­tric mo­tors at the back, one pow­er­ing each rear wheel. Power would be around 670bhp and torque 487lb ft, giv­ing a 0-62mph time of less than six sec­onds. It’s a big car – around Grand Scenic length – but with car­bon­fi­bre body­work for less weight.

On the road, the steer­ing wheel and ped­als can move away to give you more room in au­ton- omous mode – while, in dy­namic mode, the seats grip like rac­ing buck­ets. Re­nault says the whole house/car con­cept could be­come real around 2030, but a stand­alone car along th­ese lines could be just six years away. Mean­while, it’s stirred a lot of de­bate. It’s in com­plete con­trast to a bold idea an­nounced by Jaguar as part of its Fu­ture Type con­cept: cars could be shared, and all you phys­i­cally own is the Sayer in­tel­li­gent steer­ing wheel.

The in­no­va­tions trans­form­ing our driv­ing world 1 IN­SIDE JOB Re­nault has a strong track record with in­te­ri­ors. Gen­er­a­tions of Es­pace and Scenic have raised the bar, while the Vel Satis and Avan­time went way out there in putting the fo­cus on pas­sen­gers. The Sym­bioz takes this think­ing to new ex­tremes. nd 2 TWO BE­COME ONE You drive home and park in­doors or on the roof. Right… Wouldn’t work for res­i­dents of Nel­son Man­dela House or Corona­tion Street, would it? But as­pects of Sym­bioz are vi­able be­yond the realm of rich eco-home dwellers. The car can be treated as an o†ice space or a TV lounge, and it can feed power into the home if needed.

SCREENS EV­ERY­WHERE Among the neat de­tails in the Sym­bioz are th­ese watch-sized touch­screens in­te­grated into the seat­belts, al­low­ing ev­ery oc­cu­pant con­trol of com­fort and in­fo­tain­ment. Or how about this? If some­one rings the door­bell of the house while you’re in the Sym­bioz, the main in-car screen can show you who they are and you can re­motely open the front door.

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