Renault EOLAB takes on Peugeot 208 Hybrid

French-makers in all-out hybrid war

Renault EOLAB

The wraps have been pulled of the ultra-low fuel consumption Renault EOLAB just days after arch-rival Peugeot pulled the covers of its own miser, the Peugeot 208 Hybrid Air 2L.

The svelte looking Renault, based on a B-Segment platform which means it’s a similar size to the 208, boasts a fuel-economy figure of 1.0L/100km, courtesy of a hybrid drivetrain and super-lightweight construction that means it weighs only 955 kilograms. It’s powered by a 57kW/95Nm 999cc three-cylinder petrol engine mated to a clutchless three-speed transmission, as well as a 50kW/200Nm electric motor. Keeping with the ‘three’ theme, it also has three doors with an asymmetric set-up similar to the Hyundai Veloster or previous-gen Mini Clubman.

The Peugeot offers a figure of ‘less than 2.0L/100km’, according to the French maker, which has based its miser on the 1.2-litre PureTech 82 model that already boasts a fuel figure of 4.5L/100km in petrol guise.

Yet neither the EOLAB or 208 Hybrid Air 2L are a crisis of conscience: both are a responses to the French government’s New Industrial Plan presented by president Francois Hollande last year, which aims to create 450,000 jobs after a decade of decline in which 750,000 manufacturing jobs were lost.

Part of this is making vehicles with fuel figures of 2.0L/100km or less, and with genuine mass-production viability by 2020.

Renault says that with the EOLAB, “the notion of such a car being produced in large numbers within the next 10 years was dialled into the plan from the very start”. That includes all aspects, from its aluminium, magnesium and thermoplastic resin construction, the electric power unit ­- enabling up to 60km of range - to exterior styling that focuses on aero and includes an active spoiler and air ducts, again in order to achieve the best possible fuel economy.

While Renault has a solid EV line-up in Europe, including the Zoe hatch, wild-looking Twizy and Kangoo commercial van (that Australia Post is currently trialling), it’s “Z.E.” branded EVs have proven too expensive for Australia.

That hasn’t stopped the Renault-Nissan group bringing the Nissan Leaf Down Under, a C-segment model that’s currently the world’s best-selling EV and retails at $39,990 after an initial launch price of $51,500 in 2012.

Both the Renault EOLAB and the Peugeot 208 Hybrid Air 2L will be shown at next month’s Paris motor show with the first French ‘2.0L/100km for all’ production models appearing sometime in 2015.


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