Car of the Week: Renault Eolab

Oh Nicole, you look a dream in green

Eolab front

IS THIS the car that can save congested cities such as London, Paris and Rome from chronic air pollution? Renault has revealed its first plug-in hybrid with a promise that it can drive more than 280 miles on a gallon of fuel and emits just 22g/km of CO2.

The Eolab is a showcase for the French company’s engineers, containing a feast of new technology for making a family car ultra-efficient and putting the va-va-voom into going green.

The question car buyers will be asking, though, when the Eolab is first displayed in public at next month’s Paris motor show is: will it ever go on sale? And the answer, sadly, is: there are no plans to put it into production.

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The streamlined machine — which is about the size of a Renault Clio but, despite the weight of its hybrid powertrain, lighter than the lightest petrol version of the little hatchback — is said to showcase about 100 innovations that could be incorporated in production models in due course.

Eolab doors open

They include some predictable fuel-saving tricks such as lighter body panels and low-rolling-resistance tyres. The car also bristles with more futuristic features: hubcaps that automatically transform into a solid disc when air-cooling of the brakes is not needed to reduce drag; no rear door on the driver’s side to reduce weight; and a ride height that automatically lowers at speed to improve aerodynamics.

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The Eolab marks a change in direction for the French car maker, which was an early champion of all-electric power. Perhaps noting the success of hybrids made by companies ranging from McLaren to Toyota, Renault is expected to follow suit, putting the hybrid powertrain from the Eolab (a 1-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a 40kW, or 54bhp, electric motor) in its production models.

On paper it’s the ideal car for families looking to reduce bills and cut emissions. If only they could buy it.

Eolab side 2

Renault Eolab specifications

Engine: 999cc, 3 cylinders, petrol, plus 40kW electric motor with 8.7kW battery
Power: 128bhp (total)
Torque: 218 lb ft (total)
Fuel: 282mpg
CO2: 22g/km
Release date: Previewed at Paris motor show on October 2; not destined for production

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