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First Sight: Renault Radiance concept truck

Mon, 20 Dec 2004 00:00:00 -0800

At this years IAA truck exhibition in Hannover, Germany, Renault Trucks surprised everyone by presenting a dynamic look into its future with the 'Radiance' concept truck. By capitalising on the cultural heritage of the brand, based on the three values of efficiency, 'caring and daring', and innovation, Renault Trucks have produced what they imagine to be a 'dream truck' which outlines their truck design language for the future.

Xavier Allard, the design cheif of Renault Trucks explains his newest creation: "It should give people a look into a new chapter in the history of Renault Trucks". The design has a futuristic appearance which can be traced back to Renault's automobile design division. In the truck world as in the automobile world the French are relying on design perfection and stylistic innovation. Allard explained that "Our trucks should be easily recognizable even from a distance", as a part of the corporate "genetic code" philosophy.

The cab exterior has strong features which include the shape of the front grille elements, muscular volume of the arched wings, distinctive triangular lights in the front and dynamic flowing lines which all tie up to give the design language for the exterior future of Renault Trucks. It seems that Renault Trucks want to achieve through an avantgarde design strategy a special position in the truck design world, as they have done in the automobile segment.

The driver will not sit in a purely functional spacious cab as in Renault's competitors, but will sit in a high-tech minimalistic 'glass palace'. The highly flexible cockpit can be changed quickly from an elegant functional work place to a super chic 'hotel room'. Throughout the cab is the 'touch design' philosophy which is being systematically adapted to all Renault vehicles. This approach allows Renault to incorporate the desired level of technical complexity into their vehicles whilst keeping them easy and enjoyable to use. The intelligence and pertinence of a controls shape inevitably leads to its intuitive use; this is what Renault Design likes to call 'simplexity'. The soft flowing natural forms are combined with tight hard lines and surfaces, the driver/cab interface has a 'want to touch' feel to it.

An entrance assistance step appears automatically when the door is opened, and makes entering the cab almost like walking up stairs. The seating position has the feel of modern sporty automobile with a small steering wheel which can be adjusted into an almost vertical position.<br />

The new driving position provides a level of comfort, safety and ergonomics which has never before been seen in the market for heavy-duty trucks. The driver gets only the most important information, the speedo and tacho are both digital, and other than this the ergonomic dashboard is clean and uncluttered with a retractable gear stick. This study is made up of existing technology which could be put straight into production. Cameras on the cabs side and rear replace conventional mirrors, enhance the design and are better for the aerodynamics, and there is an electronic 'Steer-By-Wire' system with no steering column, which in a crash situation would be an advantage. Both the cameras and the steering system are unfortunately not permitted on the road at the moment. For added comfort and safety, the Radiance has no key - with a simple smart card in his pocket, the driver can start the vehicle. Access locking and unlocking is automatic and there is also an electronic hand brake.

The rear saddle of the truck is completely covered and has a sporty automotive feel about it, there is a cleanly designed rear light package, and as a safety feature the rear brake lights shine brighter the harder they are pressed by the driver.

It took only about 12 months from the first sketches to the finished concept truck, and the Radiance has already covered about 250 km of test on the road which for a concept truck is really a lot - Jean-Francois Venet who is Allards boss admits this was a little trying at times.

Allard together with Renault's design guru Patrick le Qu?ment are already dreaming of the next concept truck, according to Allard, "We both want to do something really different". I think we are all anxious to see what it will look like.

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