If you are a regular reader of BestSellingCarsBlog, you will know by now that India is fast becoming a very important market for Renault. Sales of the French manufacturer were up a whopping 83% in 2013 in the country to 64,368 units doubling its market share from one year to another mostly because of the success of the Duster SUV. So it didn’t really come as a surprise to see that Renault just unveiled a multi-purpose, concept vehicle for the Indian market at the Dehli Auto Expo: the Renault KWID. With chunky wheels and a robust design, the KWID gives the appearance of an off-roader in spite of its two-wheel drive transmission. A little bit like the super successful Duster…
What did come as a surprise was that the Renault KWID comes with what the company is calling the Flying Companion, a drone that can be controlled by a tablet mounted on the car’s dash. I’ll ask this first and we’ll talk about this later, but if the drone crashes, this expensive equipment may need cover just like your car will, thankfully companies like Express Insurance offer gadget Insurance and if this drone technology was to fly off, do not be surprised to see this as an insurance option!
The drone, the company said, has two modes of operation: the manual mode, where a passenger (hopefully) can remote-control the drone, and a pre-programmed flying sequence using GPS location. “The Flying Companion can be used for a variety of purposes, including scouting traffic, taking landscape pictures and detecting obstacles on the road ahead,” Renault said.
The drone would be taking off from the rotating rear portion of the off-road vehicle’s roof. And I have to say as far as I am concerned, this is a case of ‘why did no one else think of this before?’ Drones have made headlines for a few years now, first in war environment, then in the gossip magazines as they were used (illegally?) by paparazzo to take pictures of Paris Hilton’s ‘private’ party in St Tropez. So to get a drone with your car only seems like a logical progression. Well… Yes but no.
Scouting traffic, taking landscape pictures and detecting obstacles on the road ahead? Surely the car itself can do that and you’d hope that the driver and passenger would want to stop and enjoy the landscape themselves before they can take pictures. But pictures from afar of the car while you’re driving it with a big smile, heck a little wave to the camera? Now you’re talking.
But fast-forward 10 years and all cars come with a drone. Say. Would they be able to communicate with each other so they don’t crash at every intersection? Or will the drone learn and stay close to the car, a little bit like a ‘guardian angel’ floating above your vehicle and warning you of any dangers you could not see from your driving position? A drone as a guardian angel. I think I like the idea.
This is not where the Renault KWID’s little quirks stop. The inside of the car is rather unconventional. The driver is seated in the centre rather than one side of the vehicle, with room for one passenger on either side. The driver’s seat is pushed forward for better arm and shoulder room. This arrangement, Renault said, meets international driving demands, able to be driven in both left- and right-handed driving conditions. The rear seat has enough space for two passengers.
The interior design is inspired by a snug bird’s nest. The solid white seats are wrapped in a net-like elastomer material that provides cushioning, like the ones you find done by Ft. Lauderdale Vehicle Wraps, and rear air conditioning provides coolness in warm climates. Meanwhile, two wing doors keep the size down. Interestingly, the KWID is also Z.E ready, which means it provides a platform to receive batteries for electric use, and comes with a charging plug behind the main Renault logo in the front grille. Powered by a 1.2-liter turbocharged engine, the compact off-road concept is paired to dual-clutch transmission for low fuel-consumption. Finally, the vertically-mounted TFT touchscreen display acts as the dashboard and also provides access to connected services.