Re­nault’s freestyling con­cept bo—in

Stéphane Janin, Re­nault’s di­rec­tor of con­cept car de­sign, sees tech­nol­ogy call­ing time on dull cars


> RE­NAULT FULLY un­der­stands con­cept cars, and the ben­e­fits of do­ing them. A true con­cept car (as op­posed to a show car, which you do when you know how your pro­duc­tion car is go­ing to look and you want some feed­back) lets you test new ideas very quickly – it takes about a year to go from scratch to the fin­ished car, and you get very in­ter­est­ing feed­back.

> THERE IS no risk. It costs some­thing but it’s noth­ing com­pared with a pro­duc­tion car, and you have many ar­ti­cles and TV pro­grammes in which your brand gets ex­po­sure. With Tre­zor [the 2016 show­stop­per that Janin also worked on] we had four min­utes on the main chan­nel in France and three min­utes on the BBC… That’s great value; you al­most get back your in­vest­ment. Of course if the me­dia says it’s bad that’s not so great for us.

> YOU HAVE to take risks and not worry about what peo­ple say. In the ’70s, the golden age of con­cept cars, the Ital­ians like Gi­u­giaro made some amaz­ing con­cepts – they were like pieces of art. You see these cars in mu­se­ums and, while it’s not very nice to say it, in 50 years’ time you won’t see many Me­ganes in mu­se­ums. But maybe you’ll see Tre­zor or EZ-Ul­timo [Re­nault’s re­cent Paris show con­cept, a lux­ury self-driv­ing limo] on dis­play in 2050, owned by a col­lec­tor.

> DE­SIGN­ERS ARE pas­sion­ate about cars. Now we have to think dif­fer­ently. One in­ter­est­ing idea is that we’ll have cars ded­i­cated to spe­cific uses. So cities will be very clean and quiet, be­cause the cars will all be EVs. When you want to es­cape to the coun­try­side you’ll take a sports car, not a com­pro­mise. You’ll own some­thing like Tre­zor, or per­haps share it with a friend, but when you’re in the city you’ll call a ride-shar­ing robo-taxi. A friend in LA dreams of this kind of ser­vice. He could be stuck on the 405 in rush hour but in EZ-Ul­timo he could be work­ing or mak­ing calls, not wast­ing time, and then when he goes to Big Sur he’ll have a Tre­zor or a mo­tor­cy­cle – which sounds bet­ter than what we have to­day. > WE’LL NO longer have to de­sign the av­er­age car, the Golf. That won’t ex­ist any more, which is not so bad.

> TOOLS LIKE vir­tual re­al­ity are great. But these tools are made to save money. The sooner you can get work­ing on that real thing, the bet­ter. With a sculp­ture you can work as a team, it’s col­lab­o­ra­tive, and when it’s done, you know that it’s good. With vir­tual re­al­ity you can put on the stupid glasses, bump­ing into things as you move around, and you’re think­ing ‘Yeah, it should be okay, it should be good…’ But un­til it ex­ists you never re­ally know.

Janin with two of his ba­bies; (top) and EZ Ul­timo, Re­nault’s vi­sion of a pre­mium mo­bil­ity ex­pe­ri­ence

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