The group called the Laboratoire Cooperatif dInnovation, or LCI, is made up of 48 designers, engineers, researchers and marketing specialists given the task of coming up with ideas which can be turned into "convincing demonstrators"

The group called the Laboratoire Cooperatif d'Innovation, or LCI, is made up of 48 designers, engineers, researchers and marketing specialists given the task of coming up with ideas which can be turned into "convincing demonstrators"

Housed deep within the Renault Technocentre to the west of Paris is a group whose role is to create 'disruptive' future mobility concepts.

This group is called the Laboratoire Cooperatif d'Innovation, or LCI, and is made up of 48 designers, engineers, researchers and marketing specialists given the task of coming up with ideas which can be turned into "convincing demonstrators".

The Eolab, which was revealed just before the Paris show in October, came out of LCI. So did the Twizy and the Next Two autonomous-driving prototype. Now LCI has unveiled the Value Up which shows how savings made in powertrains and platforms could be invested in advanced connectivity services and materials while paring production costs.

The Value Up will probably never be shown in public. No pictures will be released. It is, Renault said, "an internal research project only". It will not be produced in its present form which includes helicopter-style, mostly glass cockpit sides and roof, rear hinged rear side doors and bamboo exterior and interior trim sections.

But it contains something which is production ready and merely awaiting the right car to accommodate it - two 15.9-inch touch screens which replace almost the entire front of the dash and all the switchgear apart from that required by law.

The screens are operated by swipe movements, like a tablet computer, and can be totally customised. Control of the screens can be handed to the front passenger or even someone in the rear with a tablet computer and a Renault app. The driver can have navigation on one screen while the passenger watches films on the other. A special screen filter prevents the driver from being able to see videos on the move.

"Technically, it is ready now," said Renault. "We just need to have the right car. It requires a complete change of the dashboard, vents and air conditioning."

The Value Up could one day form the basis of an A-segment model, based on a new small-car platform Renault is developing and an existing 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine. The prototype weighs 830 kg and would have CO2 emissions 10g/km lower than a comparable current Renault. With a plug-in hybrid powertrain emissions would be 45g/km. Profitability would be 20% greater than at present.

Meanwhile, two ideas from LCI - a compact electric motor 10% smaller than those offered by Renault today, with the same level of power, and a turbocharged dual-fuel petrol/LPG engine - have been confirmed for production in 2015. The new in-house electric motor, wholly created by Renault and made at the Cleon plant, will be slotted into the Zoe and Kangoo from spring.

Smaller modules which remove the need for external power supply cables, a new stacking system and the integration of the junction box, power electronics and charger in one unit have brought about the reduction in size while a switch from water to air cooling means internal ducting is no longer required.

The petrol/LPG engine is based on the existing 0.9-litre Clio/Sandero unit and is said to bring about 25% fuel savings and a 10% cut in CO2. It features engine stop start and an eco mode.

Looking further ahead, LCI is working on three projects which could be partcularly significant for fleet operators. There is a mild hybid diesel Master van which could lower operators' fuel costs by 10%; a "last-mile" Twizy-based urban delivery vehicle with a detachable two-wheeled cargo trailer capable of carrying 150kg of goods; and a 730cc, 67bhp turbocharged and supercharged two-cylinder twin-stroke diesel engine which would weigh less than 100kg and could eventually be 15% more fuel-efficient than the K90 1.5-litre dCi four-cylinder diesel, the most popular Renault engine in the world.  

"We are not there yet - we need a specific turbocharger which would be quite costly but we know how to make it," Renault said. "It would be much more expensive than a petrol engine, but cheaper than a four-stroke, four-cylinder diesel."

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