In 2006, Renault’s newly-appointed head of design Laurens van den Acker, initiated his innovative design strategy. Following a philosophy of the human life cycle, whereby people fall in love, mature, start a family and get wise, he created a series of concept studies which led to a complete aesthetic overhaul of the Renault product portfolio. The DeZir was the first product to emerge from this strategy. But a car’s life cycle lasts only 6 to 8 years. Hence the creation of the Trezor, the first of a new series of concepts leading to the next generation of Renault models.

Or, as Van den Acker explains: “We had to take another step forward, but without losing track of that story of the human life cycle. It will be different this time, more focused on continuity but still surprising, following changing consumer tastes. In a few years time, design will lead market success, with 80% of sales volume in each segment being decided by just 3 or 4 models. With support from management and more freedom in design we will be able to compete with German or Japanese trends.”

The Trezor is a 470 cm long and 107 cm tall electric avant-garde sports car, like the DeZir, yet different in many ways. “A GT in which a young couple can make a romantic journey,” as Van den Acker puts it. Its frontal appearance is simpler then current Renaults yet still recognisable, with D-shaped driving-light graphics. The long rounded tail end adds to a new elegance against the cut-off rear ends of so many sports cars. The transparent red canopy opens in one piece with the bonnet, giving access to the equally red interior. “It is like a jewel box, containing rings to propose to your partner during the journey,” Van den Acker smiles, before handing over the question-answering function to his advanced-design right hand man Stephane Janin.

He explains the hexagonal facets on the sides and bonnet. They are reminiscent of the surface treatment on old Bugatti engine blocks, but serve a broader function than just graphics. Janin: “In the bonnet they can open to help air circulation from the engine bay. But you can also feel their profiles which we have reproduced in carbon fibre skin. Even paint cannot disturb the fine profile.” This surface treatment gives the bodywork a new dimension. The filigrain horizontal taillight elements were done with fibre optics which dim or glow depending on function, like when braking.

The dashboard is more than a simple I-pad, slightly curved and L-shaped. Primary functions like climate control, indicators, gear options and audio operation are still analogue. The red interior is composed of various materials, including leather but also bonded wood (ash). “For this we worked with French producer Keim, renowned for their strong and ultra light bicycles,”Janin says.

Full article in Auto&Design no. 221