Renault celebrates the past with futuristic flying concept
This year marks 60 years since Renault launched the Quatrelle, and though the company has been celebrating all year, a collaboration with design studio TheArsenale to build a flying car concept is arguably its best birthday present to itself yet.
For the launch campaign at the 1961 Paris Motor Show, Renault made 200 of the small family cars available for a test drive by motorists, and more than 60,000 locals gave it a go during the event to confirm to Renault that it was onto a winner. In the decades that followed, the Renault 4/4L went on to sell more than eight million units in over a hundred countries before production stopped in the early 1990s. And you can still see folks driving around in them to this day on the icon's home turf and beyond.
This year's anniversary celebrations kicked off in February with exclusive designs by illustrator Greg, followed by 30 examples being shown off at the Renault Classic and then an appearance at the Cannes International Film Festival. And now the company has given the iconic design a futuristic overhaul with the creation of the Air4 flying concept.
Looking to a time when our highways might well be above us, the design collaboration has essentially plonked a carbon fiber 4L body with funky lighting accents and tinted windows onto an X-frame rocking dual-blade props at the outer points, with each of the electric motors juiced by a 22,000-mAh lithium polymer battery pack for a total capacity of 90,000 mAh.
Instead of gaining access to the cabin through side doors, the driver/pilot actually lifts up the hinged shell at the rear and climbs aboard. It hasn't any wheels, so can't roll along like a car when on the ground, but Renault reports that once in the air the concept tilts forward by 45 degrees or more and is capable of a top horizontal flight speed of 26 meters per second (58 mph or 93.6 km/h) and "offers a maximum vectoral thrust of 380 kg." It's also reported able to fly up to 700 m (~2,300 ft) above the ground, but we can't tell you for how long or even how the pilot controls the concept – though we suspect remotely from the ground during flight testing.
Not that such things particularly matter, as the Air4 is destined to remain a conceptual curiosity so Renault doesn't need to worry about stumping up significant cash and resources to take it through prototyping, safety testing and certification. It's a showpiece.
And following its online debut today, it will take up residence at the prestigious Atelier Renault store on the Champs Elysées in Paris for the remainder of the year. Folks across the pond will be able to see it in the flesh from next year in Miami and New York, before a brief stop in Macau, China, on its way home. You can see the Air4 being designed, built and taking to the air in the short video below.