back to article Renault goes open source with next-gen electric buggy you might generously call 'a car'

Renault is embracing open source with its new car – an electric vehicle named POM. As the car industry unveils its latest and greatest at the North American International Auto Show, the French carmaker is pushing the POM – which stands for Platform Open Mind – as the future of cars. The space-age golf cart, pictured above, …

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    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Electric Kit Car

      I recall that kit cars were popular in the 80's - not sure about now

      Caterham is still going strong and while I don't think they offer an electric conversion at the moment, the design is flexible enough that a decent engineer (not me) should be able to bend it to his or her own will.

      The Caterham is a proper kit car (other clones are available) in my mind. Back in the 1970s and 1980s I seem to recall a fashion for taking the underworkings of a Beetle or an Escort or similar and replacing all the bodywork with something even flimsier, usually made from fibreglass and designed to look like a much more "desirable" motor; these I wouldn't count as proper kit cars.

      It would be cool if Renault or someone else could offer a modular car. I suppose the Twizzy went some way towards that with things like optional doors, but it did rather remind me of a C5 that had been on a bodybuilding course :-)


      1. photobod

        Re: Electric Kit Car

        There are a lot of kits still for sale, though the market was hugely disrupted when the IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval, later rteplaced by Single Vehicle Approval) system was brought in some years ago. Previously, there were a few basic construction and use regs. to comply with, and your car had to pass a regular MOT test. Now, it's much more complicated and expensive. It was never particularly clear why the changes were introduced - kit cars never had a history of major safety issues, indeed insurance from specialists was usually much cheaper than for regular cars.

        The vast majority of kits, then and now, were based on common running gear, but with custom chassis as well as bodywork. Most popular kits are of the single donor variety, meaning they only need parts from one standard car, plus the kit components and various accessories, to build.

        Whether you regard the use of a subframe as 'not a proper kit car' is a different argument. A lot of kits used to use the mini subframes, for example, as they provide an easy and safe way to attach most of the running gear to a new body. I believe the Mini-Marcos would have been an example of such a car, which could hardly be regarded as 'not a proper kit car', given the involvement of Jem March and Frank Costin in it's development and it's success at Le Mans. Not many would use the VW platform chassis as a base, since that was usually the most rust-prone part of the donor.

        Personally, I have built several single donor kit cars - a 30's roadster based on Morris Marina running gear which was surprisingly good to own and drive as day-to-day transport - a pickup truck based on Cortina parts (okay, with a larger Granada 2.8 V6 engine) which was also extremely practical - and a Marina/MGB based AC Ace replica. All involved custom chassis and bodywork to transform pretty dull but dependable rust buckets into much more interesting, eye catching, practical and fun vehicles.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Electric Kit Car

      >but i would have thought that Elon Musk et al would have presented an electric kit car, based on a standard frame, where you can upgrade the software to enhance performance or add features as per this article.

      Hey Shadmeister! It's a nice thought, but the are reasons why you've not seen many electric kit cars:

      1, the software is limited in how much it can improve performance. If you tweak it too much, you'll damage your expensive batteries. Tesla's 'Insane Mode' does its best to limit this, but it is still a compromise.

      2, Musk is after the mass market, and has gone some way to changing the public perception of electric cars. Kit cars have always been niche, and don't aid the change in public perception that Musk seeks.

      3, Being light weight, small in number and only used on sunny days, kit cars with internal combustion engines aren't big polluters anyway.

      4, Lithium Ion battery lifespan is a function of time (as well as recharge cycles, drain, temperature etc) so you'll be losing value on you batteries even when you're not driving your kit car.

      Still, in the future you may well be able to get electric vehicle motors and kit from from the scrap heap and build your own kit car from reclaimed components - in true kit car fashion!


      (Disclaimer: Mates of mine build space-frame 3-wheeled two-seat vehicles that take motorcycle engines)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Electric Kit Car

        1, the software is limited in how much it can improve performance. If you tweak it too much, you'll damage your expensive batteries.

        Never mind the batteries, because some people will always be happy to trade durability for performance. But there's real questions about how will insurers price the risk for a software controlled vehicle where users are encouraged to meddle with the parameters? Or for that matter, how will makers get regulatory type approval? And how will those makers price the warranty risk?

        Being realistic, the "open source" and "customisation" will need to be so constrained that it will amount to changing the colour theme, or rearranging the menus, with all important capabilities relating to performance, handling, braking, charging completely ring fenced. There might be a black market for modifications to change the other parameters (much like getting a petrol engined car "chipped", or hacking to enable software options that the car maker built in, but charge extra to enable). But as more and more of the "extras" are built in as standard but disabled in software, the makers are going to become even more agressive in protecting those high margin add-on sales.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Electric Kit Car

      It has become significantly more difficult to get them on the road - both certification and insurance.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. WibbleMe

    Where does the dog go?

    1. redpawn

      dog go?

      The upscale Twizy on the Renault page lets you convert the "rear passenger" area into cargo space. Get a chihuahua and your date might get to come along too.

    2. Stoneshop

      In its harness, attached to the front towing eyebolt.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        In the back - it's apparently got rear passenger restraints (I hesitate to use 'seat belt' as I can't see seats ...) and there's no way a human shaped human could get in there so it must be for the dog.

    3. Fungus Bob

      Re: Where does the dog go?

      He pees on the wheels like he does with every other car.

  3. inmypjs Silver badge

    "Waymo hopes to...

    provide a much cheaper smart sensor approach by selling companies both the hardware and software to expand into self-driving technology"

    And how much much more money they would make selling a complete self driving car package (if they ever have one).

    Sounds like google have realised that in a gold rush people selling picks and spades make the most money.

    1. a_yank_lurker

      Re: "Waymo hopes to...

      Also, as in a gold rush, supplying the electronic picks and shovels means you are exposed to less risk as you get your money before the car is sold.

  4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    The Doors.

    My local Renault dealership has a Twizy on display. As far as I can tell, the most door like option is a half door, so I reckon that makes it a mobile trashcan, there are places I just wouldn't park it for fear of it collecting coffee cups and food wrappers.

  5. NanoMeter

    Nice quad motorcycle.

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      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        I wouldn't want to take something that small on a motorway

        Imagine this one in Paris, Rome or on a bad day Madrid. It fits right in. So even if it will get on a M-Way it will be the city stretch, speed limit at 80 or 100 km/h and only for a few km.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    Future of cars

    How so...?

    Does it fly? Self-drive? That's the 'future' we were all promised back in the 70s and 80s.

    This one can't even keep you warm and dry, which has been a solved problem for about 80+ years.

    Does it come with a trailer for the kids? Separate soundproof bubble dome... now there's a thought...

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Future of cars

      As seen in the picture below, here is the proper way to use a Twizy...

      You put it in the trunk of your Tesla so you can use it while in town ;-)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sending pictures to the authorities?

    I can so totally imagine how useful that'd be, them receiving thousands of legally unusable pictures.

    Like, not at all. Except for DDoSers.

  8. Dwarf

    LIDAR /RADAR swamping

    So, what happens when there are a pile of electric cars all spamming out LIDAR and bouncing it off everything around and other cars receive their signals, won't that lead to incorrect sensing of the real world - presumably with bad consequences for everyone ?

    How do they ensure that each vehicle is immune to other vehicles signals, except the ones that want to share between vehicles. Also, is there a market for after market modifiers that report the car to be longer / wider than it is so that there is a larger buffer around your car to all the rest of them ..

    1. Wade Burchette

      Re: LIDAR /RADAR swamping

      That is a good thought. The best I could come up with is each system would have lasers at slightly different wavelengths. Maybe the front of the vehicle could have ultraviolet lasers and the rear infrared lasers. That way the front sensors won't be jammed by the rear lasers of a vehicle because it will filter out all infrared lasers. On two lane roads, it could be programmed to ignore any ultraviolet laser that appear on the other side of the road, while raising serious red flags for those that appear on your side of the road.

    2. OchaiThenoo

      Re: LIDAR /RADAR swamping

      Can't be any worse than the nuggets I see driving conventionally during the morning commute

  9. EnviableOne

    Ok so I take it the twizzy is the test frame, as its the least complex, now if they could stick it on the twingo or ZoE or even the Nissan Pulsar or Leaf that might be something worth looking at

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Waymo. So called because

    with it Google will have waymo data about you.

    Google services are always "complementary"

    Not free.

    1. earl grey

      Re: Waymo. So called because

      Google services are always "complementary"

      Not free.

      They're only complementary if waymo is giving me a free ride. If i'm paying for a vehicle and ride, then i'm not free and neither is my info.

  11. Lotaresco

    Where it makes sense.

    I'm very keen on cars and particularly nice fast cars but I have to admit that the Twizy makes a great deal of sense in some situations. In the New Forest there are businesses that will rent a Twizy to people arriving at the railway station. The area has a blanket 40mph speed limit, so the limited speed of the Twizy isn't an issue. It's now reasonably common for commuters to arrive on the train, pick up a Twizy at the station and head home. In the morning they return to the station and leave the Twizy with the hire shop. No need to park a car, no need to recharge. They do that at the hire shop. An electric vehicle does the job, helps to reduce emissions in the National Park and reduce parking woes.

    I'm not convinced that this would work in many other places, but the general principle of short range journeys close to bus/rail termini seems a good one. It's a bit of a return to the situation in the 19th and early 20th centuries where pre-Beeching rail reached many rural areas then the passenger would walk, bicycle or pay for a horse and trap to take them the last leg of the journey; only slightly more convenient.

    Sadly the Beeching cuts saw track ripped up, houses and industrial building built over the tracks and tunnels and bridges fall into disrepair. There's not much chance of seeing these routes opened again. They would make sense as driverless "people mover" routes as has been done in some European, Korean, Chinese and Japanese rural areas and electric quadricycles as the last leg of the route home make sense.

    As Jay Leno said in an interview with James May, we should support EVs where they make sense. It leaves more of that lovely petrol available for car enthusiasts.

  12. Dan 55 Silver badge

    French cars + electrics

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Mike Moyle

      Re: French cars + electrics

      Li-Ion battery = Pom Fritte?

  13. ukgnome

    What a horrible looking thing

  14. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Pommes Frites

    vehicle named POM.+ ARM-compatible chips

  15. goldfish

    Another string to the bow

    Is Waymo related to Flymo, and can it also cut the lawn for you ?

  16. earl grey

    steering clear of talking about the security risks

    Bugger all. Minor details that. Are they paying the insurance and have they got attach points so when this rolling coffin gets hit they can just drop it in a hole?

    Have they figured out the conundrum of who gets sacrificed - the passenger or the crowd of kiddies on the sidewalk when a lorry comes screaming toward it?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

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