Renault unveils shape-shifting Morphoz electric car concept

Mighty morphing range extender

RENAULT has revealed the Morphoz, a stretchable electric crossover that partly pre-empts a new family of EVs coming from the French company in 2021 but more specifically represents its vision for new cars post-2025.

By far the concept’s most eye-catching feature is its ability to physically switch between City mode, in which the vehicle is 4.4m long, and Travel mode, where the car extends to 4.8m to allow for extra battery capacity, legroom and luggage space.

Renault predicts that the car will have a range of almost 250 miles in City mode, using a 40kWh battery, and over 430 miles after metamorphosing into Travel mode, which employs a huge 100kWh battery.

The transition itself is somewhat unnerving – as the wheelbase and front wings extend, it seems like the car is going to keep transforming, stand up and start fighting the Decepticons.

The Morphoz is designed to interact flawlessly with future “smart cities”, including the idea of battery and car sharing. The car is unlocked via smartphone, allowing “community sharing”, although the utopian idea of buying a car and then allowing other people to use it is unlikely to be appeal to many motorists.

The batteries can be charged both statically and dynamically, making use of Renault’s proposed Incit-EV project, which intends for roads to be built that can charge an electric car as it drives. Renault also plans for the batteries to be used outside of the car, such as to power house appliances.

The interior of the Morphoz is similarly future-facing. The passenger seat can swivel, enabling face-to-face conversations between the front and back seats so passengers can “act as if they were at home in the living room,” according to Renault.

The car is claimed to be level three autonomous, also known as “eyes off – hands off”, which means that, although it can navigate bends and traffic jams by itself, it still requires the driver to be able to take back control within a few seconds. If you’re driving, therefore, you’ll remain facing firmly forward. No car currently on the roads has reached level three autonomy, including so-called “Autopilot” models sold by Tesla, and many believe reaching that point is still a long way from reality.

Although the Morphoz is a concept which will not be available for at least five years – if ever made at all – it is also the debut of Renault’s CMF-EV engineering platform, which will form the basis of a number of electric models set to be released in the medium term and beyond. This includes a crossover due later this year.

The concept comes as part of Renault’s pledge to offer the widest range of electrified vehicles. Three of the company’s flagship models – the Clio, Capture and Mégane have been hybridised in the E-tech range, with the two former models being revealed in January, and the 160hp Mégane revealed this week.

Renault also offers a range of pure-electric models including the Zoe and forthcoming Twingo Z.E. city car, although the latter will not be available in the UK.