Renault Morphoz hints at Volkswagen ID.4 rival

The Renault Morphoz previews the firm’s new electric-car platform, which will underpin two large electric models by 2022

Renault Morphoz

The Renault Morphoz concept will enter production as a rival to the forthcoming Volkswagen ID.4, DrivingElectric can reveal. The Renault show car previews the firm’s all-new electric-car platform – known as CMF-EV – and is expected to launch by 2022.

The concept car features what Renault calls a "revolutionary solution" to electric-car range anxiety – the ability to lengthen to make space for additional batteries. While this setup is unlikely to come to fruition in the production car, many of the Morphoz’s styling cues should feature.

Speaking with DrivingElectric, Groupe Renault head of design Laurens van den Acker said: “I hope we can make [the production model] look more like a Morphoz.

“It was an interesting exercise, because I wanted to make sure our electric cars have plenty of character, even though they might not have the usual characteristics or elements a traditional car has, like a big grille,” van den Acker told us. “It has quite a sleek silhouette, with a lot of aerodynamic treatment at the rear – and I think this is a sign of things to come.”

By using flexible panels and hinged bodywork, the Morphoz concept can stretch from 4.4 to 4.8 metres at the flick of a switch. This opens up an area in the car’s floorpan, into which the bigger battery can be inserted. This boosts the standard 40kWh battery with an additional 50kWh, taking the available range from 249 miles to 435 miles; as soon as the user no longer needs the additional range, the cells can be removed and the car returned to its starting position.

The shorter body is referred to as ‘City’ mode; lengthening the Morphoz into its ‘Travel’ configuration also reveals a more practical interior and a larger boot. The concept has only four seats, although the front passenger seat hinges at the base allowing the occupant to face rearwards should they wish.

The interior is made from recycled and sustainable materials, including a floor built from used yoghurt pots, plus wood on the doors and wool for the seats. The cabin centres on a large transmission tunnel, which houses a wireless phone charger and a screen for the rear-seat passengers. The dials comprise a series of digital displays and there's a 10.2-inch screen on the dashboard; the car can be locked and unlocked using artificial intelligence (AI).

While much of this is just blue-sky thinking for now, we can expect much of the Morphoz’s styling – including the bold front end and slim headlights – to materialise on the final production car. The sleek, coupe-like silhouette, long wheelbase and low roofline are also likely to feature.

With a new Renault ZOE electric supermini already in production, the Morphoz’s SUV bodystyle is almost guaranteed: “I think we’re still in for SUVs for quite a while,” van den Acker told us. “They’ve become incredibly efficient and remain very attractive – and it’s the only proportion that appeals globally.

The Morphoz, which was initially due for reveal at the cancelled 2020 Geneva Motor Show, also gives us a look at the company’s new CMF-EV electric-car platform. As well as a new SUV, the technology will underpin a second vehicle by 2022 – likely a Volkswagen ID.3-sized family hatchback.

Speaking to DrivingElectric, Gilles Normand, Renault’s senior vice-president for electric vehicles and mobility services said: “The platform is modular and flexible and can be used for several applications. It'll allow us two cars to sit above the ZOE. The more cars you have, the better the scale effect.”

He also confirmed that the next generation of Renault electric cars would offer “more than 550 kilometres (342 miles)” on a single charge, and “high charging capability”. These models will therefore have the necessary hardware for Europe’s growing 150kW charging network, resulting in around 150 kilometres (93 miles) of range being added in 15 minutes.

While Renault has so far hinted at only two new electric models, the flexibility of the architecture ensures the brand could use the technology on myriad vehicles. 

“Morphoz shows our flexibility,” Normand told us. “[CMF-EV] is a platform that can accommodate different batteries; thin batteries or tall batteries – for crossovers or sedans. The capability of EV means it has the ability to go to every segment.”