Renault ZOE: design story

Production Cars 10 Apr 2013
Renault ZOE: design story

Renault has released a design story and a set of images from the development process of the ZOE electric model.

Below we report the full document along with some selected images. Also check the full gallery of photos from the design process.

Renault ZOE - Design Sketch

From the official Press Release:

2010 Renault ZOE Concept Interior Design SketchesDesigned from the start as an all-electric vehicle, Renault ZOE is a supermini of clean, flowing lines.

The distinctive front end expresses the new brand identity with its friendly, appealing looks.

The blue effect of the logo, headlamps and dark-tinted windows identify ZOE as an electric car. Reflecting the concept of purity, the cabin aims to create a relaxing, zen feel with materials that are soft to the touch.


At the end of January 2008 at the Davos Forum, Carlos Ghosn announced the ambition of the Renault brand to market a range of four electric vehicles.

2010 Renault ZOE Concept

The flagship model was project X10, a supermini designed as an all-electric vehicle, intended for mass marketing. This far- reaching mission was placed in the hands of the pre-project teams, who confirmed its technical and economic feasibility on December 16, 2008.

This marked the starting point of the design process, organized on a competition basis. The brief presented on January 21, 2009 stated that the design should be “friendly and reassuring for an innovative, responsible all-electric vehicle”.

Exterior Design

The first creative proposals adopted an extremely radical approach. Designers saw the new electrical era as a great opportunity to reinvent the car.

Nevertheless, little by little, studies gradually converged towards a more rational approach. The transition from internal combustion to electric power would already mark a major break in customer habits, so it was important for the styling of ZOE not to be too perplexing.

The aim was to design a car with a difference, but reflecting the formal cues of automotive design in its lines and proportions, so that it would be immediately accepted.

Renault ZOE - 3D Digital Design Review

“To convey the car’s relations with the environment, designers sought inspiration in the forces of nature and the elements. The car had to be expressed in moving rather than static form, driven by clean, natural energy. The inspiration boards in the design offices showed pictures of intense, stormy skies, raging seas or the pure lines of winter landscapes.” explains Agneta Dahlgren-Hermine – Zoe Design Project Manager.

The winning drawing was by Jean Sémériva. Two key words guided his digital penwork: purity and emotion.

Purity, in the lines that seem to run the length of the car’s body, and emotion, in its agile, dynamic allure. The car had a reassuring and dynamic look with its compact, sculpted forms, 2,588 mm wheelbase and raised waistline.

2010 Renault ZOE Concept“We wanted to design a car in motion and made for motion. Where one line stops, another begins. The design of ZOE was addressed as a whole, like a drop of water. It has no corners or cut-off points.” explains Jean Sémériva.

ZOE is immediately identifiable as an electric vehicle, with the blue effect of the Renault logo and headlamps and the blue dark-tinted windows across the range.

Unusually on a production car, the rear lights are transparent with blue concentric edging.

They turn red only on braking and when the lights are switched on at night. This makes the overall body colour appear more uniform.

Renault ZOE - Design ProcessWhen Laurens Van Den Acker arrived in 2009, he made major design changes, modifying the front end to reflect the new brand identity. As a result, ZOE features slender dual- halogen headlights and a larger logo, contrasting with the black grille. The wide smiling air intake with two dimples on either side for the daytime running lights, give ZOE a friendly, appealing look.

On July 28, 2009 in the presentation room at the Technocentre in Guyancourt, Jean Sémériva presented his work to management team, receiving a highly enthusiastic reaction. His design carries his signature: a thumbprint in relief on the exterior handle of the rear doors, concealed in the rear pillar.

Customer tests began in March 2010. The prototype presented at this time closely matched the model that would be brought to market at end-2012. Again, the reaction was highly enthusiastic.

Interior Design

Renault ZOE - Interior 3D Rendering Renault ZOE - Interior 3D Rendering

The interior design of ZOE is the work of Dominique Marzolf whose first sketches also expressed the theme of purity. The dashboard is carved from a single block, in clean, taut lines.

2010 Renault ZOE Concept

The same approach is visible in the fascia strip, which resembles the blade of a wind turbine. This component uses a material that is new to the automotive industry, soft to the touch and inspired by the world of home design.

Renault ZOE Interior

The pure, relaxing ambience is underlined by the use of pastel color schemes in the cabin – on the Life and Zen versions – and by the presence of advanced technology.

Renault ZOE - Interior Design SketchingThe 7” screen of the Renault R-Link console appears to float in front of the dashboard, while the TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen on the control panel hints at ZOE’s high-tech content.

The seats feature built-in headrests, with pale textile upholstery (on the Zen version) treated with Teflon® stain protection for easy cleaning.

The identity of ZOE as a zero-emission vehicle is shown by the initials Z.E. on the gear knob and on the driver’s seat headrest. A pictogram resembling a printed circuit can be seen on the roof lining and on the dashboard.

The official presentations

The design of ZOE was completely finalized in July 2010. The reveal was organized in two stages.

2010 Renault ZOE Concept 2010 Renault ZOE Concept

Renault ZOE debuts at GenevaFirst, the presentation of the ZOE preview show car, also designed by Jean Sémériva, at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

The show car, which went on to share 90% of its design content with the production model, was a huge and immediate success with customers and in-house staff.

The ultimate stage in the design process: the world preview of ZOE in its definitive form at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

The resemblance between ZOE and the ZOE preview show car was applauded by both the public and the press, who gave the car a warm welcome.

(Source: Renault)

Image Gallery

Renault ZOE: design story - Image 9
Renault ZOE: design story - Image 14
Renault ZOE: design story - Image 23
Renault ZOE: design story - Image 7
Renault ZOE: design story - Image 5
Renault ZOE: design story - Image 35
Renault ZOE: design story - Image 18
Renault ZOE: design story - Image 38
Renault ZOE: design story - Image 33

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