Renault’s voiture dans la maison
Renault’s blurring the divide between your driving and domestic lives. Could it really happen?
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 oice 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.