Renault unveils AIR4 drone version of its retro 4 classic car

Renault has teased what its new electric 4 supermini could look like by creating a drone version using the classic model’s bodywork.

Bosses at the French car company confirmed earlier this year that the iconic Renault 4 nameplate will be reborn as a compact electric crossover by the middle of the decade as part of its transition away from conventional petrol and diesel engines.

However, the ‘AIR4’ concept unveiled on Friday isn’t the vehicle you might have been expecting – especially because it doesn’t have wheels.

The one-off creation is an electric drone in the shape of the classic Renault 4 body that can fly at speeds of up to 58mph and at a height of 700 metres. And the creators have flown it in real-world tests.

Renault4 for the skies: The French brand has marked the 60th anniversary of one of its best-selling cars of all time with a drone version. And it is likely a teaser for the new electric Renault4 crossover that’s due before 2025

The drone has been put through flight trials, though video footage merely shows it hovering above the ground rather than racing through the skies

The drone has been put through flight trials, though video footage merely shows it hovering above the ground rather than racing through the skies

The French car maker has teamed up with wacky vehicle-design hub TheArsenale to create a futuristic ‘showcar’ to mark the 60th anniversary of the Renault 4, which was originally produced between 1961 and 1994 and sold more than 8 million examples in over 100 countries in those 33 years.

But while Renault says it is a show car, it flies rather than drives.

It does away with the wheels and replaces them with four two-blade propellers, one at each corner of the vehicle, like an oversized drone you can sit inside. 

And what you sit in is a retro take on the Renault 4’s classis body shape, which sits in the middle of the drone’s frame.

In order to get in, the driver has to lift the shell up, which is hinged at the front, and close the body over themselves. 

Footage of the airborne drone also gives a clearer view of the retro Renault 4L shape used for the bodywork to mark the 60th anniversary of the volume-selling French classic

Footage of the airborne drone also gives a clearer view of the retro Renault 4L shape used for the bodywork to mark the 60th anniversary of the volume-selling French classic

TheArsenale - the future mobility designer behind the inception of the drone and has designed everything from stealth boats to military-grade ATVs and personal submarines - says its engineers tested terabytes of data to improve and fine-tune the design

TheArsenale – the future mobility designer behind the inception of the drone and has designed everything from stealth boats to military-grade ATVs and personal submarines – says its engineers tested terabytes of data to improve and fine-tune the design

The drone features a Renault4 body on top of a carbon fibre chassis. The driver has to lift the lightweight Renault4 shell in order to get seated inside

The drone features a Renault4 body on top of a carbon fibre chassis. The driver has to lift the lightweight Renault4 shell in order to get seated inside

The lightweight shell, also constructed using carbon fibre, is hinged at the front and lifts high enough for a pilot to duck underneath to get into the cabin

The lightweight shell, also constructed using carbon fibre, is hinged at the front and lifts high enough for a pilot to duck underneath to get into the cabin

AIR4 reach 700 metres and tilts to 45 degrees during flight as it moves forwards. The outright top speed is 26 metres per second - 58mph - and it has a take-off speed of 14m/s (31mph)

AIR4 reach 700 metres and tilts to 45 degrees during flight as it moves forwards. The outright top speed is 26 metres per second – 58mph – and it has a take-off speed of 14m/s (31mph)

The entire vehicle is constructed from carbon fibre to ensure it is lightweight enough – with a pilot onboard – to be able to take to the air. 

Powering the AIR4 drone is 22,000 amp-hour lithium polymère batteries that generate a total power of around 90,000mAh.   

It can go as high as 700 metres and tilts to 45 degrees during flight as it moves forwards.

The outright top speed is 26 metres per second – 58mph – and it has a take-off speed of 14m/s (31mph). 

Renault describes the concept as a ‘symbol of independence and freedom, born out of the realisation that traffic is compounding, lives are grinding to a halt, and the world above us is unhampered’.  

Powering the AIR4 drone is 22,000 amp-hour lithium polymer batteries that generate a total power of around 90,000mAh

Powering the AIR4 drone is 22,000 amp-hour lithium polymer batteries that generate a total power of around 90,000mAh

Like the Renault5 concept already shown earlier this year, the AIR4 hints the reborn 4 will have a retro take on the original's design, retaining the postvan-like body shape and incorporating the revised Renault logo and an oval headlights flanked by LED running lights

Like the Renault5 concept already shown earlier this year, the AIR4 hints the reborn 4 will have a retro take on the original’s design, retaining the postvan-like body shape and incorporating the revised Renault logo and an oval headlights flanked by LED running lights

AIR4 does away with wheels and replaces them with four two-blade propellers (pictured), one at each corner of the vehicle

AIR4 does away with wheels and replaces them with four two-blade propellers (pictured), one at each corner of the vehicle

Renault describes the concept as a 'symbol of independence and freedom, born out of the realisation that traffic is compounding, lives are grinding to a halt, and the world above us is unhampered'

Renault describes the concept as a ‘symbol of independence and freedom, born out of the realisation that traffic is compounding, lives are grinding to a halt, and the world above us is unhampered’

TheArsenale – which has its European headquarters in Paris and has designed everything from stealth boats to military-grade ATVs and personal submarines – says its engineers tested terabytes of data to improve and fine-tune the design. 

And the future mobility company has even carried out real-world trials ahead of its public reveal. 

Commenting on the vehicle’s unveiling on Friday, Arnaud Belloni, global marketing director at Renault, said: ‘After a year-long of celebration we wanted to create something unconventional to close up the 60th anniversary of 4L.

‘This collaboration with TheArsenale was a natural fit. The flying showcar AIR4 is something unseen yet and a wink to how this icon could look like in another 60 years.’

The Renault 4 – which was originally produced between 1961 and 1994 (pictured) – will be reborn as a compact crossover before 2025, the French firm announced earlier this year

Some 80 million Renault 4s were sold during its 33-year production run, making it one of the brand’s best-selling models of all time 

Before 2025, Renault has promised it will relaunch the 4 nameplate to use on an electric crossover that will be built on the same chassis as the Renault5 EV that's due to go on sale in 2024 to replace the Zoe

Before 2025, Renault has promised it will relaunch the 4 nameplate to use on an electric crossover that will be built on the same chassis as the Renault5 EV that’s due to go on sale in 2024 to replace the Zoe 

While the AIR4 is only a concept, it does provide an early glimpse of the reborn Renault 4 that will see the return of the legendary nameplate when it is reborn as an electric car before 2025.

Renault confirmed in June that it will revive the 4 and 5 as part of its shift to electric cars in the next half decade, with boss Luca de Meo confirming they will be among 10 new EVs launched before 2025.

Both will be produced on Renault’s electric-dedicated CMF-BEV platform and use the latest battery technology – though further details about the 4 in particular remain thin on the ground for now. 

Like the Renault 5 concept already shown earlier this year, the AIR4 hints the reborn 4 – which is said to be called the ‘4ever’ – will have a retro take on the original’s design, retaining the postvan-like body shape and incorporating the revised Renault logo and an oval headlights that are flanked by LED running lights.

The electric 4 crossover will hit the market after the reborn Renault 5, which is due to be launched in 2024 with a price tag that’s around 33 per cent less than the existing small electric Renault, the Zoe.

The most basic version of a Zoe costs from £27,500 in the UK – which means the 5 could launch with a target price in the region of just £18,500, inclusive of the Government’s existing £2,500 Plug-in Vehicle Grant.

An electric Renault 4 - likely called the '4ever' - will be built on the brand's electric-dedicated CMF-BEV platform and use the latest battery technology - though further details about the 4 in particular remain thin on the ground for now

An electric Renault 4 – likely called the ‘4ever’ – will be built on the brand’s electric-dedicated CMF-BEV platform and use the latest battery technology – though further details about the 4 in particular remain thin on the ground for now

Renault confirmed in June that it will revive the 4 and 5 as part of its shift to electric cars in the next half decade , with boss Luca de Meo confirming they will be among 10 new EVs launched before 2025

Renault confirmed in June that it will revive the 4 and 5 as part of its shift to electric cars in the next half decade , with boss Luca de Meo confirming they will be among 10 new EVs launched before 2025

Instead of lithium-ion batteries, as used in most electric vehicles today, both the 4 and 5 will could run on Nickel, Manganese and Cobalt (NCM)-based batteries, which Renault says will reduce the cost per kWh to around $80 (£58) by 2030.

In terms of driving range, this should improve performance by 20 per cent. Though it estimates the 5 will be able to drive for 249 miles (400km) on a fully charged battery, which is on par with the current Zoe in showrooms today.

Speaking about the Renault 5’s return by 2024, Mr de Meo, who spearheaded the recent revival of the retro Fiat 500 in his former role at the Italian marque, said: ‘I know from experience that reinventing a cult products lights a fire under the whole brand.

‘This is a cult vehicle at a price many can afford. And this is only the beginning for the whole Renault brand.’

A motoring icon reborn: Renault confirmed the Renault 5 will be reborn as a sub-£20,000 electric city car by 2024. It will retain the looks of the 5 Prototype revealed earlier this year, which is styled to look like the 5 Turbo hot hatch of the 1980s

A motoring icon reborn: Renault confirmed the Renault 5 will be reborn as a sub-£20,000 electric city car by 2024. It will retain the looks of the 5 Prototype revealed earlier this year, which is styled to look like the 5 Turbo hot hatch of the 1980s

The 5's return: Side-by-side, you can see some of the shared design cues of the 5 Prototype with the iconic 1972 original

The 5’s return: Side-by-side, you can see some of the shared design cues of the 5 Prototype with the iconic 1972 original

It estimated that the electric Renault 5 will be able to drive for 249 miles (400km) on a fully charged battery, which is on par with the current Zoe in showrooms today

It estimated that the electric Renault 5 will be able to drive for 249 miles (400km) on a fully charged battery, which is on par with the current Zoe in showrooms today

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *