Renault’s take on shared urban mobility is GO
One of the most striking exhibits at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show was found on the Renault stand and hinted at what direction automotive city traffic might be going in over the next few years. The French manufacturer has a history of introducing unconventional concepts, one relatively recent example being the Twizy. However, the EZ-GO takes things to another level in terms of design and purpose.
The EZ-GO is designed as a “robo-vehicle”—a shared-mobility driverless vehicle with electric drive. It can transport up to six passengers within towns and surrounding areas, and the goal is for it to become part of the ecosystems that exist in these urban environments. Renault says that EZ-GO is also the first in a family of similar concept vehicles that will be introduced throughout 2018.
Described as a service as well as vehicle, Renault says that the concept will have two major impacts on city environments in terms of on-demand mobility and sustainability. First, it aims to simplify travel for everyone, either as a standalone means of transport or as part of a multi-transport framework. Passengers can make use of the vehicle either on a door-to-door basis, or when travelling to or from a dedicated docking station. It is seen to be an affordable transportation service because it is shared, and because journeys are made easier for passengers, there is perceived to be a further benefit to occupant health and well-being.
The second positive impact regards traffic flow. Shared mobility means fewer vehicles in urban environments, a reduction in the demand for parking spaces, and a cleaner space due to battery power. That electric powertrain comes in the form of an electric motor located on the rear axle to maximize interior comfort for passengers. The battery pack—for which no details were revealed by Renault apart from a weight of 300 kg (660 lb)—is also situated under the floor.
Looking at the EZ-GO’s shape and size might lead people to the conclusion that it is more like a bus or shuttle, in the mold of the likes of Rinspeed’s SNAP. However, with a limited height and large glass panels, it has a different aesthetic appeal that is also beneficial to the onboard technology. Those panoramic glass panels provide the widest possible field of vision for the autonomous system’s sensors and also maximize the amount of light that will be useful for passengers who might be working or reading while in transit.
To make use of an EZ-GO, passengers have the option of ordering one through a dedicated app, or at one of the many stations that are situated throughout a city. Inside, it promises to have the comfort of a traditional passenger car but also the atmosphere of a lounge or home environment. As a service, Renault believes that EZ-GO can be open to all, especially for those who are too old, too young, or no longer able to drive. The cars will operate around the clock, supplementing car ownership and public transport systems that already match that availability, but offer a different way to travel.