The Renault-Nissan Alliance to showcase 100% electric vehicles at Challenge Bibendum

The coming-of-age of the electric car will be celebrated by the Renault-Nissan Alliance at the Challenge Bibendum in Berlin in May. For the first time since Renault and Nissan have participated in the annual event, the two companies will be showcasing electric vehicles at the five-day event dedicated to a sustainable future for personal mobility.

The Challenge Bibendum, which is created and sponsored by Michelin and now in its 11th year, brings together more than 5,000 people from the worlds of politics, business, industry, science, society and the media to discuss the challenges facing future mobility.

As well as forums, debates and technological exhibitions, Challenge Bibendum, which starts May 18 this year, stages ‘real world’ driving tests and rallies.

One highlight of the event is a 300-km rally for up to 100 intercity vehicles to evaluate performance, safety, fuel savings and, vitally, CO2 emissions. The Renault Fluence Z.E. (zero emission) family saloon will represent the Alliance in this rally. Although the total distance to be covered is greater than the EV’s maximum range, the driving team will swap batteries at half distance to demonstrate that electric vehicles need not be restricted to a life within the city walls.

The award-winning, five-seater Nissan LEAF – already on sale in Japan, North America and select markets in Europe – will take part in other events, including a tough 30-km circuit simulating typical urban conditions. Under the watchful eye of the German automotive club ADAC, various tests will evaluate acceleration, braking drivability, noise emissions and fuel savings. The compact family hatchback, which was recently named 2011 World Car of the Year, will also participate in a 125-km rally dedicated specifically to electric vehicles.

Both the Nissan LEAF and the Renault Fluence Z.E. will take part in the event’s opening parade and will also be available for media and public to sample in Ride and Drive demonstrations. Visitors will have the opportunity to pit their eco-driving skills in the Renault Fluence Z.E. against targets set by Renault’s Challenge Bibendum experts.

“Challenge Bibendum sees the vehicles needed for tomorrow’s road mobility as ‘Clean, Safe and Connected.’ The Renault Fluence Z.E. and the Nissan LEAF embody those three attributes completely. The Alliance is at the forefront of EV technology and Challenge Bibendum is the perfect platform for us to demonstrate how the future of personal mobility will look,” said Thierry Koskas, Electric Vehicle Program Manager at Renault, speaking on behalf of the Alliance.

The Alliance is aiming to be the leader in zero-emission mobility and will have the capacity to produce 500,000 electric vehicles and batteries at its plants around the world by 2015, making it the only automotive group in the world building electric vehicles and batteries on this scale.

The two companies have also entered into more than 90 partnerships with governments, municipal authorities and companies around the world to ensure that the necessary incentives and infrastructure are put in place for the successful adoption of such vehicles.

Challenge Bibendum was first run in 1998 in Paris and has since been held in American, China, Japan, Brazil and other European capitals. The 2011 event is the 11th running of the event and will be held at the Berlin Templehof from 18-22 May, 2011.

The Nissan LEAF has already won numerous accolades since it went on sale in Japan, North America and Europe late last year, including 2011 World Car of the Year and 2011 European Car of the Year.

The zero-emission car is powered by a compact electric motor in the front of the car driving the front wheels. The AC motor develops 80 kW of power and 280 Nm of torque, enough for a maximum speed of 145 km/h (90 mph). The electric motor is ‘fuelled’ by a Nissan-developed laminated lithium-ion battery with a power output of more than 90 kW. When fully charged, the car has a range of about 175 km (NEDC).

Sales of the Renault Fluence Z.E. and the Renault Kangoo Z.E. van are due to start in Europe in fall at the same price as their internal combustion engine equivalents. Renault Twizy will be launched at the end of this year and Renault ZOE is expected to launch in mid-2012. Examples of the Fluence Z.E., Kangoo Z.E. and Twizy are already on the road in Europe as part of an extensive test program.