A five-door hatchback that doubles as an extra room for your home? Why yes, it’s the quite mesmerising Renault Symbioz, an all-electric concept that you can slot into your house and park there to effectively create an extra, modular room. Well, modular room might be a bit much – it's more an extra sofa or two, really.
It's the company’s neat way of showing how a car can be an extension of your house - as you can see in Renault's official video at the bottom of the story.
With a low and flat roof, large glass area and C-shaped LED headlights and rear lights, Renault reckons that the futuristic appearance of the Symbioz will be representative of production car design sometime around 2030, when most of us will be driving electric cars.
See all the news about the Frankfurt Motor Show
Gallery: Renault Symbioz Concept official images
As such, the new Symbioz packs two electric motors mounted at the back, with the large 72kWh battery pack installed within the floor. With a massive combined output of 671bhp and 487lb ft, the concept runs to 62mph in less than six seconds. It can travel for up to 310 miles in real-world conditions, and can be charged wirelessly to 80 percent in only 20 minutes.
Inevitably, the Symbioz has fully-autonomous capability via its “mind-off” mode. When activated, the dashboard automatically retracts while the pivoting seats allow those sitting in the front to swivel and face the rear passengers, or lie back and read a book, or something else better than staring moodily at the traffic ruining your commute.
While the Symbioz is not destined for production, Renault has made the promise it will build a functional demo car based on the concept. It’s scheduled to enter the testing phase on the roads before the end of the year, with additional details to be released in the months to come.
Gallery: Renault Symbioz Concept official images
RENAULT SYMBIOZ: A NEW LIVING SPACE FOR A NEW KIND OF FREEDOM
“No longer can we think of car design in isolation from the ecosystem surrounding us, or from the evolution of major changes like electric energy use, connected and autonomous drive technologies that influence our lives as we move from place to place. This is truly a unique project that allowed us to work with our planners, designers & engineers, academics & architects, startups and sociologues to explore new boundaries in customer experience, technology and energy use and design harmony to form a complete experience.”
Laurens van den Acker – Senior Vice President, Corporate Design
The SYMBIOZ concept showcases Renault’s vision of the car of the future and its role in our lives inside and outside the car. It comprises a car, a demo car and a home. SYMBIOZ comes under the ‘Wisdom’ petal of Renault’s lifecycle-based design strategy, suggesting maturity.
The SYMBIOZ concept on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show looks ahead to a horizon of up to 2030, and Renault has also developed a demo car, which foreshadows a vehicle in a closer timeframe, around 2023.
Both cars are electric, autonomous and fully connected to their environment. ‘Travellers’ – the driver and passengers – enjoy a cabin that feels like home and has been designed for autonomous motoring. On the road, the car becomes an extension of the home. When parked inside the home, it doubles as an extra mobile, modular and multi-purpose room.
Visitors to the Renault stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show will be able to walk around this connected home and experience the way cars like SYMBIOZ may be interacting with their environment in the future.
Renault is the first carmaker to present a complete home at a motor show that evokes future possibilities of how the car will deliver new features inside the home and will be an extension of the home on the road.
A car that delivers new features inside the home
Inside the home, Renault SYMBIOZ symbolically shows how cars can play an even more important role in our everyday lives by 2030.
An extra mobile room
Renault SYMBIOZ provides extra space and features for the home, taking on different functions according to the needs and desires of occupants. Inside the home, SYMBIOZ becomes a snug, mobile, comfortable and modular extra room.
- A lifting platform can raise the car from the ground floor to the bedroom or the rooftop terrace on the first floor. Parked on the roof, SYMBIOZ can be turned into a cubby room for relaxation or rest, while enjoying a view of the outside.
- It can be an open space like a living room where people can spend time together and talk. The cabin interior was inspired by the design of living rooms.
- Or it can be a closed space for relaxation or work where people can seclude themselves from the rest of the house.
Renault SYMBIOZ features similar materials and interior furnishings to those used in the house and remains in complete harmony with the home, regardless of its position or use.
“Renault SYMBIOZ shows how we may combine the car with the home. The car becomes a new mobile, multi-purpose living space for the whole family and can be used - open or closed - more fully, even when parked. But this spectacular work also operates in another important way. The car allows passengers to feel at home when traveling, thanks to the interior design. It is underpinned by the idea of maximizing the available space for the passengers without taking anything away from comfort and modularity. Each one has a space to live a personal experience, but this space and this experience can also be shared by all.”
Stéphane Janin – Director of Design, Concept Cars, Groupe Renault
* Source: EMD Standard Certu
Smart energy sharing and saving
Renault, the European leader in electric vehicles, developed SYMBIOZ to ensure the home and car share energy. Kilowatt-hours are distributed through a smart grid shared by the car and the home in an artificial intelligence environment capable of anticipating occupants’ needs:
- If there are no plans for a long trip in the next 48 hours, a minimum charge level will be left in the car battery (i.e. enough energy for a short trip) in order to optimise power distribution at home.
- However, if a weekend away is planned, the system will fully charge the car battery on Friday night, gradually turning down the home heating overnight.
- It is also possible to programme the system to use the power stored in Renault SYMBIOZ’s batteries temporarily for the lights, screens and home appliances during peak times. If there is a blackout, this happens automatically.
Power sharing can be monitored and adjusted using the screen located on a table in the home’s living room or via the car’s dashboard.
The smart connection between the car and the home is permanent, making SYMBIOZ’s ecosystem more seamless and efficient. Occupants can access their digital lives anytime for an easier and more enjoyable life experience, in line with the ‘Easy Life’ philosophy of Renault.
- The cabin is like the home where everything is within arm’s reach – music, social media, personal cloud storage and digital subscriptions. Reading, listening to music and even teleworking are options from this extra room. If someone rings your doorbell, their face pops up on the dashboard display and you can let them in.
Connected to open automation platforms using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, occupants can programme smart interactions between the car and home devices and appliances. The car and the home coordinate the energy, lighting, multimedia and comfort features seamlessly and continuously.
- If the car is on the rooftop terrace, it is automatically moved down safely to the ground floor a few minutes before a trip is scheduled in the daily planner. Messages are displayed on the screens around the home to inform occupants.
- If you enter a long trip into the planner like a holiday, the shutters will close fully and the home heating system will be turned down automatically after you leave.
Renault SYMBIOZ: A home at one with the car
The house that showcases the Renault SYMBIOZ concept at Frankfurt Motor Show is 21 metres long, seven metres high and eight metres wide, for a total floorspace of around 120 square metres. It was designed for Renault by Marchi Architectes, the 2008 winners of the Nouveaux Albums des Jeunes Architectes Paysagistes (NAJAP) Award from the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. One of the up-and-coming architecture firms in France, Marchi Architectes share the warm, people-focused approach which is central to Renault’s design DNA.
The car is complementary to the home and also an extension of it. They bear a resemblance to each other and share the same architecture: a steel frame, extensive glazed surfaces and wooden decor elements. H33 is a throwback to the first modular prefabricated homes which were directly inspired by car design in the 1920s and 1930s. That was around 100 years before SYMBIOZ, which embodies Renault’s vision for 2030.
The resemblance goes even further. The same interior and exterior materials have been used on both the home and the car, such as copper, marble, fabric and porcelain. Some of the furniture and homewares have been designed by promising French designers who share Renault’s drive for innovation and authenticity. These include Ionna Vautrin (lights, worktops), Constance Guisset (mirrors, poufs), Iratzoki Lizaso (table, chairs), Guillaume Delvigne (marble objects, crystal glasses), Samuel Accoceberry (mirror, rug), Cléo Joffre and Cardew Bonniot (dinnerware).
“As designers for Groupe Renault, our job is to imagine what role cars will play in the future and integrate them into its ecosystem. We therefore set out to build part of this ecosystem – a family home – and let our customers experience this home at an international motor show. That’s a first. The car and the home are at one with each other in complete symbiosis as they share some of the major architectural design choices, common materials and styling. The Renault SYMBIOZ concept has its place inside this innovative, connected home and can be seen by everyone through the wide glazed surfaces and on the rooftop terrace."
Tina Kentner – Senior Designer, Environmental Design, Groupe Renault
The home blends in with a range of settings – city or country. It has two floors:
- 80% of the rectangular-shaped ground floor’s glazed surfaces use clear glass to let in as much light as possible. The house has no interior pillars or walls to make it easier to move around inside and provide a special area for SYMBIOZ in the living room. The car is still visible from the outside of the house when it is inside because practically all the walls are transparent.
- The first floor of the house is cylinder-like and features the same warm colour as the car body. This ‘night-time area’ includes the bedroom and the corridor to the rooftop terrace, where the car can be positioned as an extra room to increase available space on the first floor. Unlike the ground floor, the walls on the first floor are opaque for greater privacy. Three light wells at the top of the cylinder let light flood in to the ground floor.
- This cylinder boasts a Philips Lighting-designed exterior lighting feature. Each lighting sequence matches a stage of communication between the car and the home: when the car is being charged, when it gets close to home, when it is in standby mode, and so on. The lights can be switched on and off remotely from the car’s onboard system. In partnership with Renault, Philips Lighting’s design team provided its experience in programming, smart lighting and Internet of Things (IoT) to transform lighting.
Renault has achieved a technical feat in designing a custom-engineered lifting, rotating platform to raise the car from the ground floor to the first floor. The car is lifted by just four cables to ensure the space remains as flexible and unencumbered as possible. When it is raised, the lift reveals an extra lounge/games room on the ground floor. The minimalist cable system has been directly inspired by that used in stage rigging.
An autonomous car: An extension of the home on the road
Innovative design for a new travelling experience
The Renault SYMBIOZ concept car is 4.70 metres long, 1.98 metre wide and 1.35 metre high. This futuristic one-box car boasts D-segment dimensions, however, the vehicle’s spacious modular cabin design is worthy of that of an E-segment model.
The car’s exterior styling is also innovative. The upper section of the car body – floating and architecturally-inspired – is clearly different from the lower section, which is more sensuous, muscular and racy.
The upper section resembles an architect-designed house while still blending in with the lines of the car and lets ample light into the cabin. The aim is to travel in a bright, fengshui space that is much like a large living room in a house, with wide glazed contours.
- From the side windows to the roof, all the ‘glazed’ surfaces – made from glass or polycarbonate – use clear glass to maximise transparency and let light flood into the cabin.
- The original design of the roof, which seems suspended over the cabin, reduces the number of structural elements required and also makes the cabin brighter.
- The roof is attached to the vehicle frame using high-tech enamelling for extra sturdiness and rigidity, without obstructing the glazed surfaces.
The design of the lower section perfectly matches Renault’s ‘French Design’ styling: it is sensual and warm with fluid lines and a dynamic stance.
- SYMBIOZ’s carbon fibre bodywork features two shades of copper. The matte copper hue at the front symbolises authenticity and calm, while a glossier, more satin-finish colour at the rear conveys expresses elegance and refinement.
- The car boasts Renault’s C-shaped lighting signature both front and rear. While SYMBIOZ’s lighting signature is larger and more tapered and stylised, a link is established between the concept car and current model range.
- The rear lights produce a variety of dynamic visual effects thanks to small lit fins that deploy as a function of how hard the driver is braking.
- The third stop light is built into the aerodynamic wind deflector located at the back of the roof. Its linear graphic effects continue all the way to the fog light positioned under the bumper.
- SYMBIOZ’s wheels are reminiscent of the spokes of a bicycle wheel, alluding to aerodynamic performance and lightweight design. The car uses Michelin tyres with a special narrow construction developed by the French firm to maximise SYMBIOZ’s energy efficiency.
- As with the TreZor concept car, the Renault logos at the front, the rear and the sides of the car light up in autonomous drive mode.
- The sensors and cameras used in the autonomous drive system are built into the rear wind deflectors, like two control towers.
Just like at home
The Renault SYMBIOZ concept car was conceived as an extension of the home on the road, taking direct inspiration from both house and furniture design. The aim was to make sure the cabin was liveable like any modern home.
- The split door opening system – rear-hinged rear doors for the lower part and butterfly doors for the glazed upper part – functions like a flower opening its petals. Combined with the absence of a B pillar, the system invites occupants to climb on board in the same way as they would walk through the doors of their home. There is no need to bend down or hold on to the side; just sink right into the automatically pivoting seat.
- The car and the home share many of the same materials (felt, wood, fine marble, porcelain, etc.) to give the impression of entering a familiar, warm and reassuring space which is part of the home. The custom-made car seat fabric by Dutch designer Aleksandra Gaca is exactly the same as the fabric used for the upholstery of the large sofa in the home.
- Timeless materials like wood and marble are used, with high-tech production and finishing processes to ensure that they are of the ideal weight and form.
Maximum interior modularity for 2030
The interior of SYMBIOZ has been carefully styled to guarantee maximum wellbeing for passengers so they can take full advantage of the autonomous drive system when it is operational. Travelling quickly becomes an easier and more enjoyable experience.
- The Ultra High Definition OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display located in front of the driver, thin, curved and covered by Corning® Gorilla® Glass for Automotive Interiors, consolidate in its 80 cm length all dashboard and multimedia system information. The Gorilla Glass has been manufactured into a 2D part then cold formed into a 3D shape.
- When the autonomous drive system is switched on, the steering column and steering wheel fold away into the dashboard and the pedals and dashboard retract automatically by about 15 centimetres. The seats contract to convert into genuine armchairs.
- The driver benefits from additional comfort, as well as more space, to check something on the display, rest a book on his or her knees or just take a deep breath and gain some extra space to put whatever they want in front of them – just like at home. The dashboard was developed in association with KEIM-cycles, a French firm specialised in luxury custom-made wooden bicycle frames. The thin sections of white ash are glued to a honeycomb-structure frame for a perfect trade-off between weight and strength.
- A small screen with the main indicators remains visible on the lower edge of the steering wheel which is still in the driver’s line of sight once the steering wheel retracts.
- The cabin arrangement can be radically transformed when the driver is not travelling alone. The driver and the front passenger can turn to face the other occupants as their seats pivot 180 degrees and the armrests fold away to make the whole process easier.
- Meanwhile, a mini steel frame table with a marble top opens out between the seats. This feature is a nod to the first-generation Espace from the 1980s and encourages occupants to interact with each other and engage in shared activities as they would in a living room.
- Small wristwatch-like touch screens are integrated in the seat belts. Occupants have the controls for the air conditioning, music, etc. close at hand even when the seats are turned around. The driver also has access to all the driving controls for switching off the autonomous drive mode.
Renault SYMBIOZ demo car - Advanced interior modularity and a multi-sense experience for 2023
Renault SYMBIOZ demo car looks ahead to 2023, and positions Renault at the cutting edge of innovation for cabin modularity and a sensory in-car experience.
The car’s interior layout changes according to the driving mode selected:
- The Classic mode is the standard mode. The travellers are at one with the car and feel at home. The driving position is conventional and the car’s settings are focused on comfort.
- The Dynamic mode boosts driving sensations. Driving is more active and the driver’s seat features additional lateral support for a bucket seat feel. The engine response, steering and chassis settings are all geared towards dynamic driving.
- The AD mode optimises the space available in front of the driver so they can do different things. When AD mode is switched on, the steering wheel and dashboard – which comes with a unique L-shaped display developed by LG automatically – move back 12 centimetres.
The driving mode is selected by pushing the Renault logo in the middle of the steering wheel which is lit up like a hologram.
In AD mode, the driver can choose from three journey experiences depending on how they want to spend their free time. The cabin layout also changes accordingly.
- The Alone@Home layout frees up space by retracting the steering wheel and dashboard and taking advantage of the extra foot room provided by the vehicle platform which has been optimised for autonomous driving and to house the electric motor. There is no centre console or transmission tunnel. The driver can use the additional space to enjoy other tasks.
- The Relax layout enables the driver to sit back and relax in their seat in ‘zero gravity’ position. They can use a special headset developed by Ubisoft to enjoy a virtual reality experience simulating a range of landscapes.
- The French Kiss layout enables the driver to move closer to the person in the front passenger seat. The front armrests automatically drop down and the seats turn 15 degrees towards each other.
Courtesy of the Renault MULTI-SENSE 3.0 system, an upgrade to the current MULTI-SENSE system, the occupants will enjoy a new sensory experience based on the driving mode selected. The senses will be awakened, notably smell (different fragrances), hearing (a choice of acoustic ambiences) and sight (a range of lighting environments – white in Classic mode, amber in Dynamic mode and gold in AD mode)
SYMBIOZ and SYMBIOZ demo car are both cars capable of reaching Level 4 driving automation out of the five levels identified in SAE International’s standard. Also known as ‘mind-off’ automation, Level 4 frees up the driver from all dynamic driving tasks when the car’s automated driving system is switched on. The car is capable of moving into a safe position on the side of the road if it cannot deal with an unexpected incident ahead.
Since it is no longer necessary to pay attention to the road ahead, the driver becomes an occupant, just like any fellow travellers. He or she can consequently indulge in non-driving-related activities, such as reading a book, watching a film or working.
On approved motorways or dual carriageways with a median strip, a Level 4 autonomous car can adjust the vehicle’s speed in accordance with the car in front, stay in its lane even when cornering, change lanes (i.e. to overtake another car) and operate alone in traffic jams.
Autonomous drive features will be progressively deployed in Renault’s range under the name ‘Easy Drive’.
Zero Emissions* electric platform
The Renault SYMBIOZ concept car and demo car are powered by all-electric motors as Renault continues to pursue its Zero Emissions* strategy. Renault is pioneering mass-market electric vehicles in Europe and is Europe’s number one seller of electric vehicles.
- The two permanent-magnet electric motors powering SYMBIOZ and the demo car deliver high power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios. They are located on the rear axle, with each motor driving one wheel. This layout varies the torque transferred to each wheel to improve the car’s agility and stability when cornering.
- This rear-wheel drive system also ensures that power is fed to the road more efficiently to enhance driving pleasure.
- On the performance front, the SYMBIOZ demo car delivers maximum power of 500kW and 660Nm peak torque. It provides acceleration from standstill to 100kph in less than six seconds, and the range of the batteries is more than 500 kilometres in real-world driving conditions on motorways. The 72kWh batteries can be charged 80 per cent of their capacity in just 20 minutes.
- Performance, range and charging times will be improved by 2030 when a car like SYMBIOZ will take to the roads.
- The car batteries are charged automatically via an inductive charging system.
The Renault SYMBIOZ concept and the demo car were designed on a special EV platform. The position of the motors and batteries was optimised in order to deliver:
- E-segment cabin space with no transmission tunnel. The rear-wheel drive system also enabled the front seats to be brought forward.
- A dynamic drive thanks to a lower centre of gravity and the battery position.
* Zero CO2 emissions and zero emissions of regulated pollutants during road use, in compliance with NEDC, excluding wear parts.
Connectivity for additional free time and safety
The advanced on-board connectivity system on SYMBIOZ and the demo car allows the driver and passengers to access their digital lives anytime and enjoy a wide range of services.
- When they climb into the car, occupants are identified automatically regardless of where they are sitting. Among other functions, their seat settings and music and video preferences are immediately taken into account.
- Occupants can access their digital environment, media and services just like at home or in the office.
- The various HMI applications like the seat belt control screens and the dashboard display provide data from the outside world via a Wi-Fi connection in order to interact remotely with domestic appliances like the TV, fridge, etc.
- The SYMBIOZ Demonstrator showcases some of the features of the Renault ‘Easy Connect’ new generation mobility and connected services solutions before they will be deployed in the Renault range over the next few years. For example, it allows passengers to check what happens in the house thanks to a 360° camera view on the screen of the dashboard, but also to modify the heating settings, connect or disconnect the alarm, etc.
The advanced on-board connectivity system is also a safety feature because the car can interact with other vehicles and road infrastructure.
- For instance, the car can be warned automatically of any accidents, dangers ahead or slow traffic several kilometres before these are encountered.
- On motorways, the car can go through toll gates in autonomous drive mode, as Renault demonstrated in July on a prototype which preceded the demo car. The car is notified of any upcoming infrastructure about one kilometre before the toll gate so it can move into a special lane for autonomous cars. Traffic sign recognition technology enables the vehicle to move into the right lane at a speed below 30kph and reduce its speed. Sensors keep the car in the middle of the lane.
Renault SYMBIOZ: A demo car developed under an open innovation project
The SYMBIOZ demo car foreshadows the electric, autonomous and connected car of 2023.
This engineering feat was achieved by setting up a new organisation within the Brand Vision Concept (BVC) Garage at Renault’s Technocentre located in Guyancourt, just outside Paris. SYMBIOZ demo car was developed by cross-functional teams from engineering and design. The project was carried out as an ‘open innovation’ approach. Groupe Renault highly values this way of collaborative working.
- The partners provided input in their specific areas of expertise:
- LG is involved in the development of the human-machine interfaces
- Ubisoft is providing on board virtual reality experience for autonomous driving mode
- Devialet is developing a new user experience through advanced sound system
- Sanef is working on the way the car communicates with road network infrastructure
- TomTom is contributing its geo-positioning expertise
- IAV is providing autonomous driving engineering expertise
- Before working on the actual SYMBIOZ demo car, teams from the BVC Garage developed three test mules to evaluate the main engineering components: the autonomous drive platform with Ghost Rider (based on Espace 5), the chassis and electric drive train with Road Runner and the autonomous drive system for this vehicle SYMBIOZ with Madmax (based on Talisman).