French to build two roll-on/roll-off cargo ships…Sail-Powered


❝ France-based Neoline has selected a shipyard to construct to construct its first two sail-powered roll-on/roll-off cargo ships to operate between France and United States as soon as 2021…

❝ Neoline was established in 2015 with the intention of the becoming the world’s first shipowner specializing in modern sailing cargo ships. The company has partnered with French automaker Renault to develop the ships, which will be 136-meter long and equipped with 4,200 square meters of sail area.

The ships will initially operate on a pilot route joining Saint-Nazaire, France with the U.S. East Coast and Saint-Pierre & Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland.

Oh, would I ever love to ship out aboard something like this. A truly modern adventure.

Shopping in a Twizy

A little less than four years ago, the first 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car was delivered to eager buyer Olivier Chalouhi in San Francisco.

Earlier this month, Nissan and its partner the French carmaker Renault delivered their 200,000th electric car.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance now claims a 58-percent share of the market for vehicles with no tailpipe emissions.

And it doesn’t bother sales at all – in most of the world – to roll out a commercial showing a couple of Formula One drivers galavanting around one of the biggest shopping malls in the world – in a couple of Twizys. Renault’s cutesy electric city car – the smallest of the four electric models they offer.

Renault’s electric Twizy saves energy, adds calories!

While American motorheads were in Las Vegas covering the 2012 SEMA Show, sweeter teeth had converged upon France’s capital city for the annual Salon du Chocolat, otherwise known as the Paris Chocolate Show. Renault brought a little automotive flair to the this year’s show by teaming with French pastry chef Pierre Hermé to create a Renault Twizy covered with macarons.

In a two-day process, 1,700 of the Oreo-like pastries-weighing around 50 pounds in total-were individually glued onto the high-calorie show car‘s bodywork and wheel covers.

Enjoy the video. No extra calories just from watching. Even full screen.

Renault Twizy EV prototype for Paris firefighters

When Renault showed the two-seat Twizy electric city car at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, we never expected to see it haul firefighters – meter maids, maybe, but not firefighters. The vehicle is about as far from a fire truck as you can get while still discussing motorized vehicles. That hasn’t stopped the French company from outfitting its diminutive electric car for the purpose of firefighting.

Renault and its vehicle conversion subsidiary Renault Tech worked closely with the Paris firefighter brigade to create this response-ready prototype. Envisioned as a complement to, not a replacement for, more traditional fire trucks, the prototype is designed as an early response vehicle, with the anticipation that actual fire trucks with water, hoses and gear will be close behind. For that purpose, Renault ripped out the rear seat and replaced it with a storage trunk to house emergency response equipment including two fire extinguishers, two oxygen tanks, a fire suit and helmet, and a first aid kit.

From next month, Paris firefighters will begin an eight-month test of the Twizy prototype before a decision is made about a more permanent fleet of light electric vehicles.

You might think this wacky; but, my racing days go back to the 1950’s when the Sûreté had a version of Renault’s little 4CV tuned for 120mph top speed and had internal racks for holding a couple of machine guns. Woo-hoo!

Renault industrial espionage scandal – seems to be a hoax

Renault Dezir electric concept at the Geneva Show
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The French carmaker Renault is facing embarrassment after admitting that the spying scandal that prompted its biggest ever industrial espionage investigation may have been a hoax. France’s most famous company has acknowledged that it may have been tricked and has reasons to doubt it has been a victim of industrial espionage.

The saga of a suspected spy ring, in which insiders were thought to have sold secrets of its electric car technology to shadowy foreigners, has been likened by the French press to “an incredible thriller” worthy of John le Carré. When it emerged in January that three executives had been escorted from their offices at Renault’s Technocentre outside Paris, the French government warned it was the victim of an “economic war”. President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered his intelligence services to investigate a Chinese link, which threatened to trigger a diplomatic row.

Renault never detailed its exact accusations against the three executives but the investigation centred on alleged bank accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein through which the spies could have received cash for revealing Renault’s secrets, in the competitive automobile world’s race to produce the most effective electric cars.

A source close to the French intelligence services investigation has told Agence France Presse that no accounts in Switzerland have been found. Nor have any Liechtenstein accounts been uncovered, according to a different source…

All three accused executives are suing Renault, saying they have done nothing wrong…

The case has strained relations between Renault and the government – the carmaker has came under fire for not informing authorities of its suspicions soon enough and carrying out a private investigation first.

French finance minister Christine Lagarde said on Friday that Renault would have to face all the consequences. “What counts today is getting to the truth and getting there quickly and, if the suspicions were unfounded, that justice be done, confidence restored and compensation paid,” she told French radio. “One shouldn’t shoot without a sight or accuse without proof.”

She’s obviously never had relations with Congress.

Or the average American tech pundit for that matter. 🙂

Renault urged to scrap car name Zoe

“Zoe” opening up to the Press
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

French carmaker Renault is facing a [miniscule] backlash over plans to christen a new model Zoe.

Parisian Zoe Renault, 23, has hired lawyers to insist that Renault scrap its branding.

“I could not bear to hear: ‘Zoe’s broken down’ or ‘We need to get Zoe overhauled‘,” she told Le Parisien newspaper.

Renault is facing other petitions from women called Zoe. A Renault spokesman said Zoe was not a “definitive choice”.

The all-electric Renault Zoe ZE (zero emission) is set for launch in 2012. Zoe – which means “life” in Greek – was apparently chosen to underline the car’s environmental credentials.

Zoe Renault – who has no apparent family link to the company – said in an interview with Le Parisien that she could not bear to be associated with a car for the rest of her life, and all the inevitable sarcastic gibes.

Her lawyer David Koubbi, who specialises in the protection of first names and is representing other Zoes, said he had sent a letter to Renault’s chief executive arguing that the plans were an attack on the rights of his clients.

If the company does not change its plans, Mr Koubbi said he would take the case to court.

Cripes. A lawyer whose specialty is the protection of first names?

Sound like the practice of law in France attracts as many unproductive parasites as does the U.S. bar.

Daimler, Nissan and Renault announce group hug!

German carmaker Daimler is to give Renault and Nissan a 3.1% stake in its business as part of a global tie-up of the brands, it has been announced.

In exchange, Daimler will take a 3.1% stakes in both Renault and Nissan, who have been in an alliance since 1999. The deal will see the companies remain separate, but allow them to share technology and development costs.

The carmakers will co-operate to make electric cars and light commercial vehicles, Nissan said.

Commenting on the deal, Daimler’s chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche said…”We know that we can make brand-typical products based on shared architectures. The individual brand identities will remain unaffected.”

The companies will co-operate on the development of the Smart car brand – made by Daimler – and a new Renault Twingo, including electric versions, the companies said.

Engines currently made by Renault-Nissan will also be modified to fit a new range of compact Mercedes Benz cars.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, said…”The name of the game is to be present everywhere. You have to be present in all of the emerging markets, and in every segment in those markets.”

“No small or medium car manufacturer can afford that.”

Based on 2009 sales figures, Renault-Nissan is the fourth-biggest car maker in the world, with annual sales of 6.1 million vehicles.

It ain’t ever going to be easy, though. Witness the failure of the Daimler-Chrysler attempt.

OTOH, Renault-Nissan has worked quite well. Something that may reflect the global view of Ghosn as much as anything else.

He’s an interesting dude to read, BTW.

Renault face race-fixing allegations over last year’s Singapore F1 – UPDATE and admission of guilt

Alonso follows Piquet during qualifying for the 2008 Singapore GP
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Renault face an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris later this month to answer charges of potential race-fixing.

The allegation surrounds last season’s Singapore Formula One Grand Prix when Fernando Alonso won the race, aided by a crash from then team-mate Nelson Piquet Jnr.

If found guilty, the team face severe sanctions which could result in them being excluded from the current world championship.

“The team representatives have been called to answer charges, including a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, that the team conspired with its driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso…”

Intriguingly, Renault had opted to fuel Alonso short for his first stint, a bizarre tactic when starting so far down and on a typical street track where it is notoriously difficult to pass…

At the time suspicions were roused, in particular by Felipe Massa who is understood to have confronted Renault team principal Flavio Briatore, accusing him of engineering the crash…

Only recently Piquet was sacked by the team, with the suggestion it is the 24-year-old, or his father and manager Nelson Piquet snr, who has since blown the whistle, prompting an investigation, and now subsequent hearing.

The politics of F1, the FIA and international motorsports grow more Byzantine – not less – every year.

Most years, when something this absurd happens – it’s a spur of the moment act of rash passion – often involving drivers who are neck and neck for the title. This piece of crap – if true – is truly nefarious.

UPDATED: Keeping French lawyers employed may not be especially useful; but, Renault is suing Nelson Piquet, Jr and his dad.

Here’s the important UPDATE: Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have stepped down from their posts after Renault decided not to dispute allegations that the team ordered former driver Nelson Piquet Junior to crash deliberately at last year’s Singapore grand prix.

Battery maker + Renault plans 160,000 electric vehicles a year

Hopefully, they lose the silly green glass!
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The electric car industry received a boost after a leading developer of low-emission vehicles said it would produce of tens of thousands vehicles a year from 2011. Better Place, which will run the scheme with Renault, plans to market them initially in Denmark and Israel.

The French carmaker is developing three models: a full-size sedan, a compact city car and a van…

“We expect the production of electric vehicles to be in the tens of thousands per year for the Danish market from 2011,” said Jens Moberg, chief executive of Better Place Denmark, the Danish subsidiary of the transport company developing the lithium batteries fitted in the vehicles.

Electric car drivers will need to sign up for a monthly subscription with Better Place to get access to the batteries. “It will be like signing up for a mobile phone contract,” said Moberg…

Drivers can recharge the batteries at home, which would take several hours, or switch batteries at a “swap station”, taking three to five minutes – less time than it takes to fill a petrol tank.

In Denmark, close to 100 battery swap stations will be available around the country, with plans to expand further.

Moberg said Better Place was in discussion with a number of European countries, including France, about expanding the scheme further from Israel and Denmark.

All good for the future of intelligent design in motor vehicles. Some will come, some will go; but, everyone learns each time one of these concepts hits the streets of reality.