Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker talks to Autocar UK on the EZ-Ultimo concept unveiled at Paris motor show and what it means for the future of Renault. Plus, he discusses why he'd rather design a Clio than a Ferrari...
Does the EZ-Ultimo represent a bid by Renault to go into the premium sector?
"In the world of tomorrow, you’re going to open an app and order a vehicle for 10km. You see this on the Champs D’Elysees [in Paris] now where you can rent a Lamborghini for half an hour. Renault has always democratised innovation, so we could be the ones that democratise luxury or a premium experience – even if it’s a short one. You don’t have to be rich to live rich. I think this would be very fitting to our values."
Which is most likely to make production: the EZ-Ultimo, or the other autonomous concepts shown earlier this year by Renault: the EZ-Go and EZ-Pro?
"The EZ-Ultimo is on the extreme end of the spectrum. But on the other side, this is probably where we can afford the most, where companies might be willing. Now, hotels are buying Rolls-Royces. In terms of pricing, then [a concept like the EZ-Ultimo] might be earlier than some of the more constrained concepts."
Will the EZ-Ultimo inspire upcoming Renault production models?
"Well, it’s not going to be next Clio! But I’m looking at it more in the details: the light signature, the way we treat the area around the logo. But for the proportions, we chose the three vehicles to be a little bit more architectural, while our production vehicles are a little bit more sensual. I see these types of vehicles as being a class of their own.
"I like the EZ-Go [ride sharing vehicle]; it’s very transparent, very special. We had a lot of fun with EZ-Pro [van] and this is the other end of spectrum. It shows the richness of Renault.
What do you prefer designing: the EZ-Ultimo or the Clio?
"I never thought I’d say this, but I think the Clio – to develop a vehicle that needs to please everyone, that you’ll see everywhere, that is accessible to an enormous number of people. When I became a car designer, it was to design Ferraris, but I’ve matured a little bit over the years! Enough to see that I can really appreciate a well-done supermini."