Renault Group showcases its vision of future mobility

by Sumantra B Barooah 16 May 2019


Renault Group, one of the leading automobile groups globally has been aggressively pursuing its ambition to redefine the future of transportation and mobility. In 2018, the Group introduced three concept cars as part of its vision of the mobility of the future. At the 2019 VIVA Technology, Renault is making this vision a reality with new vehicles, partnerships and experiments that it says are generating today the mobility of tomorrow.

The company showcased its vision with — on-demand-car service using autonomous electric Renault ZOE Cab prototype vehicles, as part of the Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab project; first trial of the Renault EZ-FLEX last-mile delivery vehicle with Groupe La Poste; an exploratory autonomous vehicle, the Renault EZ-POD, for first-and-last–mile mobility services; partnership with KLEPIERRE to offer innovative mobility services in shopping centers and a new TGV Inoui service, ‘Mon Chauffeur’, developed by Groupe Renault subsidiary Karhoo in partnership with SCNF Mobilites.

As one of the leading EV company in Europe, Renault Group says it is sketching out easy-to-live mobility available to all. To prepare this new era of sustainable mobility for all, it is working on four strategic areas of innovation that are key to transforming the industry: electric mobility, connected mobility, autonomous mobility and new mobility services.

This the company says will serve the entire value chain, including vehicles, fleet management, mobility platforms and client applications needs to be expanded.

Moving people and goods
Officially inaugurated on 15 May 2019, the Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab is a project initiated by Groupe Renault, the Transdev Group, IRT SystemX, the Vedecom Institute and the University of Paris-Saclay. The purpose is to devise and test a comprehensive autonomous transportation system comprising autonomous vehicles, a supervision system, connected infrastructure and customer applications. For this, trials will be conducted to determine the requirements for scaling up an autonomous mobility service. As part of this project, Groupe Renault is operating an on-demand car service with electric and autonomous Renault ZOE Cab prototype vehicles on the Paris-Saclay urban campus.

The service is designed to provide many pick-up and drop-off points, which will not interfere with other traffic and are located near (never more than 300 metres from) the most frequented campus areas. If needed, the vehicle stops on the way to pick up another passenger traveling along all or part of the same route. People traveling to the campus by public transportation will be able to use the service to freely move around the site.

This first stage of the Paris-Saclay Autonomous Lab project is one of the SAM experiments selected by the French government on April 24, 2019 following the EVRA call for projects under the Investments for the Future (PIA) program. The SAM experiments are part of France's national autonomous vehicle development strategy, designed to familiarise local citizens and stakeholders with these systems, expand their use and build a regulatory framework that notably includes the safety approval process.

In terms of the urban delivery ecosystem, which involves logistics companies, local and authorities, cities, infrastructure and automakers, Renault is deploying EZ-FLEX, which is an experimental compact, electric and connected vehicle designed for last-kilometre urban deliveries. The first trial will be carried out with Groupe LA POSTE to test the vehicle and its services. The trial will involve all ecosystem stakeholders and is designed to develop a common vision covering urban goods mobility. The vehicle equipped with sensors will track their use, and this information will be combined with feedback from operators during the trial. The company says a broad range of data will be collected: geolocation, mileage, autonomy, door opening, speed and stops among others. The data will then be transferred in real time or once a day via the vehicle’s connectivity in order to gain an overview of the vehicle’s actual use in day-to-day operation. The analysis of the data, together with feedback from operators such as LA POSTE, will enable Renault to design vehicles that are better suited to changing urban logistics practices.

Renault Group says as demand for last-kilometre delivery soars, the diversity of rear modules is unlimited. Renault EZ FLEX was designed to adapt to the needs of the future. Its interchangeable rear modules can be connected to the vehicle. The company says VivaTech provides an opportunity to meet stakeholders who can provide further input to the smart solutions during the trials.

EZ-Pod for first- and last-mile delivery
Renault Group says it is continues to explore new mobility solutions with EZ-POD, an exploratory autonomous vehicle that can be used to provide first and last kilometre mobility.

The two-seat autonomous connected all-electric Renault EZ-POD has a small footprint and high agility to provide mobility within closed sites such as parking garages, hotels, shopping centers, campuses and in urban settings such as city centers, neighborhoods and apartment complexes. The EZ-POD with has adjustable speed, and is designed for transportation over short distances and serves as complementary mobility for all. The company says this is designed primarily as a robotised automated platform to provide first and last kilometre transportation of people, can also be provided in a goods delivery version.

On-demand shared mobility
With an ever increasing number of consumers – especially young people living in urban and suburban environments –choosing to share rather than own, Renault Group says it supports the sharing economy and has begun to operate new urban mobility services.

In Paris, Renault and ADA launched a car sharing service with a fleet of free-floating electric cars, Moov’in.Paris by Renault, in 2018. The customers can use a dedicated app to book a Renault ZOE or a Twizy, particularly for very short trips. In Madrid, Renault and Spanish infrastructure operator Ferrovial Servicio provide the Zity service, which gives users access to a fleet of 650 Renault ZOE electric cars. The group is using the model to test an ultra-flexible, standout service.

In addition, Marcel is a service offered by VTC, a Groupe Renault subsidiary since 2017, which has more than 2,000 drivers. On its platform, Marcel provides an all-electric service called e.co, which uses a Renault ZOE fleet.

In France, Renault Mobility opened its electric car sharing service in the Greater Nice Cote-d’Azur region in 2019. The service makes 57 Renault ZOE rental vehicles available 24/7 in four municipalities.

The Group had announced a partnership with KLEPIERRE, on May 13, which it says takes the Renault Mobility service to a new level: customers of these shopping centers will benefit from an innovative carsharing solution accessible via the mobile app Renault Mobility. This shared mobility experiment starting in the shopping centers at Val d’Europe (Paris region), Blagnac (Toulouse) and Bègles Rives d’Arcin (Bordeaux), which the company says will be expanded across France. As part of their partnership, Groupe Renault and Klepierre are also developing multi-use charging hubs for electric vehicles, to be known as ‘Charging Houses’. These stations will be installed by Groupe Renault in the car parks of shopping centers located in high population density areas and will be used primarily by visitors during the day and residents at night and on weekends. The service will enter service in 13 malls in France by the end of the year and will then be rolled out across Europe.

From carmaker to mobility service provider
To adapt to the new-age consumers and demands, the company is also partnering and working with various organisations, including start-ups. In 2017, Renault Group the company supported Karhoo, a taxi, ride hailing and private vehicle hiring service provider. The startup in April 2019, was awarded the European Startup Prize for Mobility. Karhoo enables end-users to book, change, track and pay for trips everywhere in France and throughout the world and offers a very broad choice of services. Renault Group says till date, more than 1,500 fleets on six continents with a total of more than 1.8 million vehicles have signed a partnership agreement with Karhoo.  In partnership with SNCF Mobilites, Karhoo recently launched a new TGV INOUI service, ‘Mon Chauffeur’, which allows users to automatically book a taxi or ride hailing vehicle for departure or arrival by train, throughout France.

In addition the company is also supporting Yuso through, RCI Bank and Services, a subsidiary of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors group. Yuso is a dispatch management solution for ride hailing vehicles, taxis and delivery companies that provides them with automated fleet and driver management.  The company’s mission is to provide a reliable, innovative technology that can be used by mobility providers around the world to optimise passenger and goods transportation.

Renault also revealed its plans to start offering Level 4 autonomous driving services commercially by 2022, for which the company will begin trials by end-2019.

With a wide-array of its own vehicle offerings, partnerships and services, the company is aiming to become a future-proof a complete mobility solution provider.