The Renault Morphoz is the awesome telescopic car you didn't know you needed
Renault has unmasked the Morphoz, a shape-shifting two-cars-in-one concept that previews interesting new solutions to our electric-powered future, including battery sharing and bodywork that “morphs” depending on the journey.
On the one hand here is a roomy car, 4.8m long and powered by 90kWh batteries for a range of 435 miles – ideal for the family holiday. But then when back on commuting duties the Morphoz is reconfigured to City mode dropping 400mm (16 inches) shorter and powered just by a 40kWh battery pack.
The concept car physically changes its dimensions by extending sections of bodywork around the front and rear wings. Not only does the car’s length extend, but also the wheelbase, the extra 200mm between axles providing extra battery room, more cabin legroom and a larger boot. When the front wings extend for Travel mode the front end becomes more aerodynamic and side grilles are exposed in order to provide the extra cooling needed for the bigger batteries.
This “Honey, I shrunk the Renault” moment sounds complex (and indubitably is) but it does solve the issue of saving weight, road space and unnecessary battery power in a single machine that can go long distances, but which is used most of the time only one or two-up with no luggage for short trips.
Central to the idea is flexibility over battery power. If you need more than the standard 40kWh of power you just call in at a battery station where they pop the extra ones in. Renault suggests this would take “just a few seconds” thanks to the vehicle’s undertray opening and allowing new modules to be slotted in – presumably just like you pop a few new double As into a torch.
When back from your long trip you call into the battery station where they reconfigure the car to its shorter City mode, and send you on your way – charging up the retrieved batteries from renewable energy sources and then using them for a range of community functions – example given is powering street lights – until they are needed by another car.
According to Renault’s dual battery use sharing philosophy, even the batteries that remain in the car should be used for other things when not powering the car. With conductive charging and bi-directional technology, they could put power back into the national grid or power domestic appliances in your house when the car is parked.
Inside the Morphoz is the familiar mix of concept car ideas and materials, with the cabin accessed by reverse hinged doors and no B-pillar in the middle. There’s a sci-fi steering wheel with haptic touch-sensitive controls, AI to second-guess what you want to do and gesture recognition along with a “floating” slimline dashboard that frees up more cabin space. And – here’s a blast from the Renault past – a front passenger seat that spins around to face the rear seat occupants, Espace style.
All that and the Morphoz looks pretty cool too, with a hint of Range Rover Velar in its rakish profile and previewing many of the design cues, vents, grilles, colours and materials that will distinguish the first impending all-electric Renault SUV. In this regard, as well as its SUV coupe style, the Morphoz is an accurate near-future taste of what is to come.
But fear not, the morphing bodywork is likely to remain at the concept stage. What this thought-provoking concept achieves however is a vivid illustration of how the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubish Alliance’s new dedicated electric car architecture, called CMF-EV, can be adapted for a whole family of electric cars from small to large. Expect to see those in the coming years.