The most frugal Indian cars deliver around 25kpl. The concept shown here will stretch each litre of petrol for a 100km. It’s called the Renault Eolab and as technical showcases go, it’s one of great interest. That’s because most of the elements of the project are set to be incorporated in Renault’s production car range by 2020.
0.235 Coefficient of drag figure remarkable for this size of car.
So how does one make a car so fuel efficient? The answer lies in making it as slippery as possible, as light as possible and equipping it with an extremely efficient source of propulsion. Let’s talk aerodynamics first. With dimensions similar to an average four-seat hatchback, making this one cut through the air was never going to be easy. The solution lay in making the Eolab’s frontal area as small as possible, having a low roofline and also a narrower tail to give the car an aerodynamic ‘teardrop’ shape. There is also a series of active aerodynamic aids such as the flaps at the rear that open above 60kph to smoothen air flow at the car’s extremities. An air suspension that lowers with speed further aids the car’s wind-cheating abilities. The rear-view mirrors have been replaced by cameras for the very same reason.
As for weight, the Eolab weighs in at 955kg – a massive 400kg less than a similar-sized Renault Clio. Where an average car would be made of a single material (typically steel), the Eolab’s body is a mix of ultra-high-strength steel, aluminium, thermoplastics and even magnesium that has been used on the roof. What’s interesting is, Renault claims that it wouldn’t have to significantly rework its manufacturing setup to integrate the mass use of these lightweight materials in production.
Weight saving measures include having just a single rear door.
Crucial weight savings also came from the Eolab’s hybrid powertrain that pairs a 74bhp, three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine to a 54bhp electric motor. The hybrid unit transfers power to the front wheels via a three-speed transmission, of which the first two speeds are used only by the electric motor. Renault claims the Eolab can run 60km in ‘weekday’ (or full electric mode) at speeds of up to 120kph. ‘Weekend’ mode, where the system functions as a parallel hybrid, can be activated to maximise driving range. We got a chance to drive (albeit very briefly) the sole running prototype of the Eolab and came away quite impressed by the seamless manner in which the engine woke up to complement the electric motor when needed.
Undoubtedly still a work-in-progress (the loud whining motors certainly made it feel so), the Eolab has been homologated and certified for 100kpl. That means even the most pessimistic of estimates would put real-world fuel consumption at par with a motorcycle like, say, a Hero Splendor. Two-wheeler fuel economy with four-wheeler comfort and safety? Now who wouldn’t want that?