Nicolas Fremau, Renault’s Hybrid Architecture Expert had to consider the electric motor as the main component in the hybrid powertrain, enabling the car to start up purely in EV mode.
Renault boasts over 10 years of success in developing and selling electric vehicles which, in combination with its experience in Formula One and its enthusiastic and passionate engineering, testing and control teams, has led to the development of the innovative E-TECH hybrid powertrains. Introduced in 2020 across Clio, Captur and Megane models – and also featuring in the All-New Arkana – the story behind E-TECH’s development is both unusual and inspiring.
Nicolas Fremau, Renault’s Hybrid Architecture Expert had to consider the electric motor as the main component in the hybrid powertrain, enabling the car to start up purely in EV mode. This presented a challenge in working out what transmission should be used between the electric motor and petrol engine. With the need to keep things simple, compact and light, he imagined a radical solution. It was to use a clutchless transmission with gearbox synchronisers, utilising dog clutch technology normally found in motorsport.
But he arrived at this solution when he was watching his son play with Lego Technic Sprockets. He used the Christmas holidays to make a model of the innovative transmission out of LEGO that he’d first imagined on paper. After about twenty hours of playing with the LEGO set there were two things that were born out of it, a) the model and b) a surprised look on the face of his son.
Nicolas had to assemble the different axes and transmission rings, glue them and drill them to fit into a cradle, as well as motorise the whole system. It was a piece of engineering that allowed him to live-test the different modes of operation between the engines.
The process of trialing the possible modes of operation also allowed Nicolas to discover new ones that he hadn’t previously thought of in theoretical analysis. This strengthened his conviction that he was on the right track with this prototype – most likely the least expensive in Renault’s history – which is as surprising and unexpected as the technical solution was innovative.